Friday, November 21, 2008

Employment and the Sporting Industry in Jamaica

With sport being one of the fastest growing industries in the world, more and more jobs can and are being created as a result.

Jamaica should be no different and it is a clear opportunity to be able to build the capacity of the industry which has given so much to this country for well over 60 years. The Ministry of Sport and its agencies along with private sector partners must now create the environment where sport is recognized and seen as a viable option for growth and development in the Jamaican economy.

Former Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Seaga, in his research has indicated the sporting industry employs approximately 22,474 people generating some US$700 million. This figure people employed directly to sport and its related areas.
Without proper measurement tools to capture the real value, it does contribute something to the gross domestic product (GDP). What then is the plan to formalise this industry and use it to the benefit of our society?

The employment figure represents almost the same as the number of teachers, which is significant enough to be noticed. That number can be increased and add value to the industry and eventually to the economy. While we devise those strategies we may want to liaise with the Planning Institute of Jamaica to see how we can measure the impact on GDP.

In challenging economic times, there are some products which will always be consumed and sport, like entertainment remains attractive. I urge the powers that be to take this much more seriously than we have.

Sporting federations cannot carry the burden alone. There main aim is to prepare their athletes for respective competitions which the country benefits from; but the management of the industry has to be guided by a policy which enables the environment for sport to be economically viable. Credit must be given to those federations which have been vigilant over the years and they continue to do well. The environment has not been the easiest to work with. Policy will help to level the playing field and NOW is the time. We are sitting on a gold mine and we are not capitalizing on it.

Businessman, Michael Hall, wrote “the resources required to make the policy work must come out of a partnership between those who control the means to make it happen and those with a common vision.”

We however will have to be patient as we develop the process and the plan; as the success will not happen overnight.

If we look at the football situation, we can safely say, planning has been missing from that equation and hence our talent growth could be affected due to lack of motivation.

It may be a requirement for the country to declare its hands on the sporting areas that matter

• Core sports – those to invest in to achieve excellence, e.g track and field, football, netball, cricket and basketball
• Network sports – those that can give us great networking opportunity e.g. golf, tennis, beach volleyball (great made for TV events)
• Targeted sports – investment in individual athletes who can be identified at the world level in KEY events e.g. equestrian, swimming, badminton
• Non-investment sports – those which are taught from the basic level and are part of a general physical education programme from the primary school level. This is a good opportunity for development of potential teams

We ought to make up our minds!

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