By Romell Eubank
Jamaica, like many other countries in the world, has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many persons have lost their jobs, schools have been affected, many businesses have been closed indefinitely and church services have been negatively affected.
In the case of businesses, many have been impacted due to early closing times because of nightly curfews implemented under the Disaster Risk Management Act. Businesses like KFC and Pizza Hut, for example, both owned by Restaurants of Jamaica (ROJ), would previously halt operations at 12 am daily, but are now forced to comply with the curfew measures imposed, the current curfew time now being from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. This means fewer customers for the entity and therefore less revenue.
There have been many job losses within the tourism sector with the low numbers of tourists arriving, due to the travel restrictions imposed due to this global pandemic. The low arrival numbers of tourists means little to no earning opportunities for hotel workers, craft vendors and transport operators who are in the business of carrying tourists to and from various sites and attractions.
While the coronavirus pandemic has caused many inconveniences, it has caused many to turn to their creative skills and has forced society to ‘think outside the box’. It has appealed to our abilities to work under pressure. With unity, determination, and government assistance we can get through this pandemic and end up more productive and motivated than we were before. It is therefore important that each individual invest in their talents and unique abilities and market them, as well as use them to inspire and motivate. Now is the time for individuals who have not found their talents to seriously self-search and self-test or to simply try new activities that are geared towards productivity.
While persons work on developing their talents and abilities, the government has a major role to play by helping persons who need accreditation and further training and most importantly benefits from their ventures. In terms of accreditation and training, the government can make more skills training courses more accessible by making them available online and structuring them in such a way that any citizen with an internet connection and a technological device can easily enroll and learn or develop new skills or get accredited for skills they already possess.
Two important courses I would personally recommended are Entrepreneurship and Marketing, as these skills are becoming increasingly relevant given the realities brought on by the pandemic. The government should also improve the mobile learning and assessment unit, which the HEART Trust/NTA has been using to provide on-the-spot assessment and certification for youth with various skills. While individuals use various means to try to benefit from their business ventures, the government can set up avenues and platforms to assist them.
Persons with artistic talents can be employed by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sports to engage in activities that may require their skills sets. Individuals doing farming should be engaged by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. There are many other business ventures that can be supported and utilized by various government ministries. The government just needs to provide these avenues and educate the country about them.
This pandemic has costed us many lives and has undoubtedly taken away fun and enjoyment for many. Many persons now struggle to support their families. We cannot sit and wait for things to get better. Instead, we must tap into our innate abilities and empower others to do the same. We CAN become more productive as a nation. We CAN become more innovative.
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