Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Young Jobless Jamaicans


With youth unemployment projected at a high of 18% conservatively, the celebrations of graduation ceremonies seem long gone for the class of 2001-2002. Graduates are being lost in a job market that has little if anything to offer.

Ramon is coming to reality, his B.A. in social psychology is not getting him much of anywhere in this job market. Other students are playing dominoes on the street corner while napping in between kicking ball down at the ball ground. Mailing his resume to a variety of Industries across the land, for Ramon the rejection regret letters are far and few but the important telephone call ain’t happening either.

The unemployment rate in Jamaica has been hovering between 18-26% for workers aged 18-26 for much of the 1990’s PNP administration. Peace meal work these past two summers initiated by government and directed at students have faintly stopped the tide of despair among the work force newbies.

Tricia Cummings 22, a honors graduate from the University of the West Indies is just one of the many who have been stricken with the unemployment blues of depression. Her student loan interest accumulates, while she has been hop scotching from temporary assignment to another.

Her parents who are facing premature early retirement due to cuts in public sector work force have been extremely anxious these past weeks as Tricia’s future hangs in the balance. Mother Cummings aches over the possiblities that lie before this diciplined and once enthusiastic Jamaican girl.

“She started out looking for work among her chosen major of studying chemistry and has found little encouragement” Mother Cummings said.

The interview flood may come at times, yet through the chatter and smiles of Q/A there is little incentive for coming second best to a bunch of experienced candidates.

Few candidates graduate from college and meet their dream jobs, but just getting a job In Jamaica may never happen for some members of this generation.

Experience is one pre-requisite which is high among the short listed candidates in the pool of applications.This leaves the young and bright frustrated while dying for something to do.

Since 1999, statistics collected by the Ministry of Health in Jamaica, show a rise in Manic Depression and extreme Schizophrenia cases among young males and females, with males being accounted mostly affected. These health trends are in keeping with the gap in gender towards education and job opportunities. Mental illness rose by 100% over the last three years, in the male category, ages 16-24 years.

The fact that oldsters are refusing to go home (ie.retire) while the kids are clamouring to climb the corporate ladder makes for a big gap in communication at the office.

The rift of unhealthy relations between younger staff and management is usually the result, with disputes and union intervention being called upon. The young professionals are being used as scape goats in a hostile climate where performance indicators are essential.

In the mix of all that, the once effervescent tourism Industry has layed off well over 3500 workers within the last 12 months and human resources big wigs at most hotels see little change in this atmosphere.

Tourisms’ food service jobs are usually used as stepping stone positions for young high school graduates looking to help out the families disposable income.

The lucrative scholarships for further training and support effected to build careers for progressive debutants is far and few. Most companies in Jamaica continue to watch their bottomline without taking any risks towards social responsibility at this time.Thus the streets, lanes and avenues will continue to feel the heavy burden.

Where are jobs for the younger generation? Is migration a way to solve joblessness in Jamaica??

In light of lack of exposure and experience, is volunteering pro-bono the best option to fight joblessness?

Please write us and give us your thoughts on the matter. Also If you have a job or know of employment that is available to a young bright Jamaican at home or abroad e-mail: [email protected] so we can help make the hook up.

Jamaica Prime Time…. Helping Jamaicans Help themelsves.

About the author

Phil Dinham