Speaking Notes for the Hon Karl Samuda, CD, MP Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries

Launch of the STU Training Programme

June 30, 2017


Salutations

Background

  • It is truly a pleasure to be here with you this morning to officially launch the Sugar Transformation Unit’s Training Programme.
  • A key deliverable of the 2013 Financing Agreement for the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) signed between the Government of Jamaica and the European Commission was the training and certification of at least 600 residents from Sugar Dependent Areas by September 30.
  • Over the life of the training component, some 1200 residents have received vocational training through partnerships with the Heart Trust NTA and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.
  • This training was provided in areas to include:
    • Small Engine Repairs
    • Data Operations
    • Commercial Food Preparation
    • Welding
    • Wall and Floor Tiling
    • Apiculture
    • Construction

    • Through the provision of these training programmes we have now reduced participants’ dependence on jobs at sugar estates while making them more employable.
    • I am pleased to announce that since October 2016, an additional 255 residents of Sugar Dependent Areas within St. Elizabeth, Trelawny, Westmoreland, Clarendon and St. Thomas have so far been certified by the Heart Trust NTA.
    • In April, 2017, a $15m agreement was signed with Education Plus Institute resulting in 70 participants in Clarendon now receiving training and certification at levels 1 and 2 of the National Vocational Qualification in the areas of Call Centre Operations and Customer Service.
    • The STU also signed a $54m agreement with Jamaica 4-H Clubs in May to train and certify at least 350 persons in Sugar Dependent Areas at their Rose Hall and Denbigh Training Sites in St. Catherine and Clarendon respectively.
    • Since then, 374 persons have enrolled to receive vocational training in Housekeeping, Apiculture, Small Equipment Repair, Tractor Operations and Food Preparation.
    • This training that is being provided by Jamaica 4-H Clubs and Education Plus will equip over 420 residents of Sugar Dependent Areas with certification, which will better prepare them for jobs and self- employment.
    • This will enable them to provide for their families and make a positive contribution to the socio-economic development of their communities. It will also equip them with much needed life coping skills.
    •  Ultimately, and despite the on-going challenges of the sugar industry, this Government remains committed to improving people’s lives, as a central objective of this Accompanying Measures for Sugar Programme.
    • As a Government we are committed to remaining  proactive and  responsive to our goal to have better homes, better roads, better water systems, better health centres, better cane yields, better cane production systems and more prosperous sugar-dependent areas.
    • We have also seen the value of training residents in these areas. This is why we have diversified their skills so that they will be able to seek and acquire gainful employment and start businesses in their communities and in other areas.
    • These trainees receive internationally recognized certification in areas which are in demand.  Once certified, they will be able to gain employment in a number of industries and if they choose they will be able to provide goods and services to their communities.
    • Over 40 successful participants in this programme have received grants of between $400,000 and a $1m to set up businesses in their communities and as we speak close to one hundred more are being assessed for additional small business grants.
    • So you can see that through this programme we are ensuring that residents not only survive but are able to thrive.
    • It is critical that I acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the European Union in this regard.
    • With budgetary support of over $15.9b since 2006, the larger Sugar Transformation Programme has been unparalleled and unprecedented in terms of the resources involved, the breadth of its influence, and its impact in terms of social and economic transformation.

    Achievements
    Throughout the life of the Sugar Transformation Programme, we have:

    1. Divested Government’s 70 per cent interest in the sugar industry and met all the attendant redundancy costs totalling $1.83b which affected over 7,000 positions in the industry
    2. Provided monetary support of $692m to over 5,250 ex- sugar workers who were deemed vulnerable to assist in their transition to alternative livelihoods.
    3. We have created and capitalized the Cane Expansion Fund to the tune of $1.82b, facilitating the replanting/establishment of some 12,600 hectares of sugar cane. 
    4. We have constructed 397 new houses to relocate over 876 residents from the dilapidated barracks into modern living facilities
    5. We have completed the rehabilitation of some 200 kilometres of cane roads at a cost of $1.85b in 6 Sugar  Dependent Areas
    6. We facilitated the installation and rehabilitation of critical social infrastructure in sugar-dependent areas through the execution of over 209 projects involving $1.63b. These projects range from improvements to schools, libraries, health centres, sporting facilities, and so on.
    7. We have provided support for infrastructure in the agro-parks at Plantain Garden River, Amity Hall and Meylersfield in order to expand economic activities and opportunities in sugar-dependent communities
      • And earlier this week the Government and the EU signed a contract with the University of Technology that will help residents in Sugar Dependent Areas to establish small business enterprises.
  • Without the EU, none of this would be possible.
  • Acknowledge, the Heart Trust NTA, Jamaica 4H Clubs and the Education Plus Institute and the work of the STU team headed by Keleen Young- Grandison.
  • Declare programme officially launched.

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