Andrew Holness was first elected to represent the constituency of West Central St. Andrew in 1997 at the age of 25. He is currently in his third consecutive term.
Prior to entering representational politics, Holness gave up private sector opportunities to work as the executive director of one of Jamaica's oldest NGO’s, the Voluntary Organization for Uplifting Children (VOUCH) and in that capacity led extensive social work in several inner city communities of Kingston. In 1995 he was invited by the then Leader of the Opposition, Edward Seaga, to assume duties as personal assistant in his office and was assigned the responsibility of developing poverty reduction and social investment policies for the Jamaica Labour Party.
Soon thereafter representational politics beckoned. The knowledge, exposure and experience gained from working in the social sector, combined with his youth and natural political savvy, placed Holness in a position to take advantage of an opening in the St. Andrew constituency he now represents, only three months before the December 1997 General Elections. Holness' election was a landmark case in Jamaican electoral law, a watershed in the dismantling of garrison politics and a positive step in establishing free, fair and free from fear elections in Jamaica. For the first time in Jamaica's gritty electoral history, an opposing party, against the national swing, won a constituency characterized as a garrison safe seat for the ruling party. This was due mainly to the determination and political goodwill developed by Holness, in addition to the enforcement of new electoral laws that allowed that goodwill to be freely and fairly expressed.
Since his formal entry onto Jamaica's political landscape, Holness has carried the hopes and dreams of many Jamaicans that a new, inclusive, prospective politics will emerge in Jamaican society. He has worked at all levels of the political system, and has patiently amassed significant knowledge and political capital with the people of Jamaica. Holness’ strength is that he chose from early in his life to work from within the political system. He therefore has demonstrated a deep and genuine understanding of the hopes and challenges of the Jamaican people and has developed a strong and direct link with the Jamaican masses. He is seen as a man of the people, empathetic and devouted the people’s interest.
During his years in the Opposition he shadowed several portfolios in the areas of social welfare, community development and housing. In 2005 Holness was asked by the new leader of the JLP, Bruce Golding to take on the topical issue of education. It is in this area that Holness found his passion and distinguished himself both as the Opposition Spokesperson on Education and in the Cabinet as Minister of Education. Consistently he has topped national polls as the best performing and the most popular minister of government. Holness preserved and advanced a bi-partisan approach to the Education Transformation and Modernization process. He brought national attention and focus to Literacy and has instituted several programmes to place Jamaica on the path to universal literacy at the primary level. Under his watch Jamaica has seen the introduction of the Career Advancement Programme, designed as a post secondary technical and vocational training programme for otherwise unattached youth. However, some of Holness' more fundamental reforms to the education system lie in the establishment of institutions such as the Jamaica Teaching Council, the National Education Trust, The National College for Education Leadership, the Centre of Excellence Programme and the ASTEP programme designed to support those falling behind in general education.