Jamaicans need better education for high-paying jobs, says Hendrickson Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaicans are missing out on high-paying jobs in areas such as aircraft maintenance and factory equipment repair because of the lack of basic education, according to business mogul Gary “Butch” Hendrickson.

Hendrickson is calling for all Jamaicans to come together to support the improvement of the education system, much like how the nation rallies behind its athletes during major sporting competitions.

“It’s a discussion we must have, just like how Shelly-Ann (Fraser-Pryce) run and buss everybody’s… at the World Championships, we must discuss it the same way. Mek me tell you something, all respect to Shelly-Ann and me love her like cook food, but this is more important than Shelly-Ann”, a passionate Hendrickson said.

The businessman who heads the National Baking Company, perhaps the largest bakery in Jamaica, was speaking at the Mico Century STEM International Conference at the AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston on July 5.

Hendrickson said Jamaica is ideally placed to host high-end businesses because of its proximity to the US, but will only do so with a well-educated workforce.

“We can’t continue to be just consumers of technology, we have to be part of the creation of it all. We need to have kids who can create circuits for the boards that control the machines in these plants…So we can’t build a plane, but build the components nuh? We will never see a Boeing (aeroplane) plant in Jamaica, but there’s no reason why this circuitry cannot be built here”, he said.

Participants of the Mico Century STEM International Conference held at the AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston earlier this week

Hendrickson questioned why Jamaica, which is only one hour and 20 minutes by air away from Miami, has not sought to develop a US Federal Aviation Authority-certified service centre at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

He also suggested that Jamaica could be the destination for the servicing of Allen-Bradley automation factory equipment.

“Those are very high-paying jobs; we must be able to ‘dream out’ but we must ‘dream out’ based on an educated populace,” the businessman said.

Hendrickson, who also owns an all-inclusive hotel in St Lucia suggested that the education system in that island is better than that in Jamaica.

“Our staff (in St Lucia) is so good on the (computer) system that our customer complaints are almost zero because they are so well trained. But it’s because they have had a wonderful basic education that we are able to train them, Hendrickson said.

“Same thing with the electricians down there; they don’t have the exposure our guys (in Jamaica) have but we have a little better advantage because their mathematics and their literacy levels are higher”.

Hendrickson said there is “a huge skill gap in maintenance”, at the National bakery plant, forcing him to “steal every skilled bakery mechanic from everybody else”.

“But at the same time I’m trying to train people up internally”, he said acknowledging that National is “going to lose people to migration”.

Hendrickson rejected the view that business persons like himself and Carimed boss Glen Christian were only speaking out about education because they were worried about the lack of qualified staff available for their businesses.

“Glen and I never thought about our businesses when we were building basic schools. He built one and a half, and I built one in Union Gardens in five and a half months for $17.5 million under budget”, Hendrickson said.

“This is about our country. If we make our country do well then chances are businesses will do well even better”, he added.

Hendrickson also called on young Jamaicans to learn to speak proper English “because the world speaks English”.