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"Jamaica needs to utilize its rich heritage and creative people"
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"Jamaica needs to utilize its rich heritage and creative people"

Investment in the creative and cultural industries is a potential solution to the tragedy of rampant youth employment, says Meeckel Beecher, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Jamaica.

The cultural and creative industries have been positioned in many countries as important industries that facilitate the growth of economies.

A recent report from the World Bank suggests that the creative industries account for more than seven percent of the world’s GDP and the rate is expected to grow to at least 10 percent in the next few years.

Unfortunately, in Jamaica, these industries have been marketed as mostly for leisure and are generally not given the financial and policy bolster they need.

The fact that a significant number of young Jamaicans are involved in the creative and cultural industries, performing at internationally accepted standards solely for leisure yet over 27% of Jamaican youth are unemployed, is a clear indication that the creative and cultural industries here could be one of the obvious answers to Jamaica’s youth employment problem.

I was particularly encouraged by the recent announcement of the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, that a National Commission on cultural and creative industries will be established. This commission will pursue a policy and legislative framework to maximize the benefits of the cultural and creative industries.

Ashe Performing Arts Company from Jamaica

This is long overdue but is a clear step in the right direction and signals that Jamaica has finally recognized the potential of these types of businesses to generate income. It is a progressive move.

UNESCO has identified the creative industries as ‘increasingly important components of the modern post-industrial knowledge based economies.” They stated that these industries not only account for higher growth and job creation, but are also vehicles of cultural identity that play an important role in fostering cultural diversity.

The perennial problem with the creative and cultural industries is the effort it takes to market the products. Fortunately for young people living in 2012, information communication technologies (ICTs) have created a unique opportunity to market products, avoiding many of the past impeding factors.

The creative and cultural industries merge creation, production and commercialization of artistic and cultural content  in the most resourceful way. ICTs will help with the digital distribution of these contents: they enhance the digital experience, improve the interface between the user and content and widen the reach of the product often times eliminating the middle man.

The works of Jamaicans have the potential to be global in seconds. Think about it, if you are a writer, you no longer need to go through the pain and cost associated with publishing; eBooks are now acceptable forms of publishing. One company in Jamaica, eMedia Interactive for example has been making waves with its digital magazines.

Musicians also no longer need to worry about favoritism or money to get their music on the air as online platforms such as YouTube can provide significant exposure. The same applies for gamers and other creators.

Jamaica needs to utilize its rich history and heritage and creative people. A large percentage of younger people in Jamaica have access to ICTs, and this provides an avenue to promote their work. It is quite possible that this is a solution to Jamaica’s youth employment issues. I hope Jamaica explores it.

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About me:

“I am a development enthusiast who believes that the effective mobilization and utilization of youths are fundamental aspects of development. I believe education is a panacea for the world’s ailments and support the notion that literacy is a human right and is one of the best tools for human development.

“Literacy is essential in eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development. I am an Education Outreach Officer and currently the Jamaica Youth Ambassador to the United Nations.”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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