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Jamaica gets US$20M to train 15,000 youth

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The World Bank says about 15,000 young Jamaicans will benefit from training, digital work opportunities and seed investments to boost the digital and animation industries in the country as a result of a US$ 20 million loan.

The Washington-based financial institution said on July 18 that the loan is for a Youth Employment in Digital & Animation Industries Project.

“This project facilitates Jamaica’s linkage into one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy,” said Jamaica’s Minister of State for Science, Technology, Energy & Mining, Julian Robinson. “It is our strongest national thrust to date to mobilize the considerable creative and entrepreneurial talent among our youth towards earning our way to a brighter future.”

The World Bank said global animation is a growing industry currently valued around US$220 billion per year, and that international companies are increasingly looking at Jamaica as a country of choice for outsourcing animation production.

As part of its “Vision 2030 Jamaica” plan, the bank said the Jamaica government is looking at the information and communication technology (ICT) sector as playing a central role in the transformation of the country over the next two decades, moving Jamaica from being a consumer to also become a producer of digital platforms and content.

“Youth unemployment in Jamaica is about 30 percent. This initiative spearheaded by the government is about providing opportunities for new talents to get new skills, find jobs or become entreprene­urs,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean.

“For the technology sector to become an engine for growth and employment, it requires the right environment with training opportunities and the right partnership between governments, private sector and young people,” she added.

The World Bank said this project builds on successful pilots in Digital Jam 2.0 and 3.0 and Kingston, which helped create new startups and position the Caribbean as a potential hub for the tech industry, linking the region’s youth with digital entrepreneurs, angel investors and centers of excellence in the Silicon Valley and across Latin America.

Recently, the bank said several Jamaican tech-savvy entrepreneurs also embarked in a 100-day accelerator program supported by the World Bank and the Development Bank of Jamaica.

Specifically, the World Bank said the Youth Employment in Digital & Animation Industries Project will provide training and coaching to 2,000 young Jamaicans, to enhance entrepreneurial skills and employability; create about 150 startup companies in Jamaica; establish “Startup Jamaica,” a physical hub for tech entrepreneurs; and mobilize up to US$7 million seed funding for tech entrepreneur startups.

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