Regional

Aubyn Hill reiterates case for knowledge economy

Friday, May 02, 2014    

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MONTEGO BAY, St James -- Chief executive officer of Corporate Strategies Aubyn Hill has challenged community colleges to lead the charge in establishing Jamaica as a knowledge economy.

"The community colleges have a major role to play in this radical economic change. The community colleges have to re-assess their educational product to fit a new economic agenda driven by knowledge and the knowledge worker," Hill stated.

Hill, who was addressing the Council of Community Colleges Power Breakfast at the Montego Bay Convention Centre last week, also reiterated his proposal for Jamaica to focus on being the leading producer of well-educated people in the Region.

"Given our limited resources, but also bearing in mind the capacity of Jamaican people, we -- private sector and the Government -- must create a knowledge-driven economy which will allow existing education institutions like the Community Colleges, and new ones which will be created, to use knowledge to leapfrog our people and economy from poverty to sustained economic and social success," Hill emphasised.

"It is a quite different economic model than the traditional one, which depends on natural resources or manpower; as different as a tugboat and a Samsung Galaxy5 Smartphone," he added.

The seasoned strategist argued that Jamaica's two main regional partners and competitors, the Dominican Republic (DR) and Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), have carved out their economic spaces.

The DR, he said, has trained its economic focus on agriculture, industry and tourism while Trinidad and Tobago -- based on its oil and gas reserves -- has left agriculture and tourism behind and has found its economic niche in manufacturing.

"The twin-island state has also decided to carve out an economic space as a regional manufacturer," Hill argued. "Trinidad has oil and gas and lots of money that we in Jamaica do not have. But, we in Jamaica have lots of bright, intelligent, innovative people with heaps of initiative, especially when they live and work overseas."

Hill also suggested that the funds that private sector and private individuals once invested in "in short-term liquid and high-yield alternate investment schemes" and government papers should now be channelled " to invest in robust, for-profit educational and training institutions".

"Investors in the private sector need to come to the realisation that in a globalised world where knowledge workers are a premier asset for a company or country, taking the longer term view of investing in top-class educational and training institutions with each graduate earning the 'fit for export stamp' can be a lucrative business," Hill argued.

"We need to put substantial private sector investment in specific knowledge skill areas such as the training of thousands more nurses, math, physics and science teachers, actuaries and dentists, and establish medical tourism centres in Montego Bay for people of the Jamaican Diaspora and other nationalities to visit for medical care wrapped in a wonderful and safe vacation.

"This private investment would allow the Government to focus on the basic educational requirements of our population as only

the Government can do," Hill stated.

-- Horace Hines

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