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Jobless 23-y-o asks: Why is it so hard to get a job in Jamaica?

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 11:07 PMGlenford Smith

QUESTION: I am a 23-year old female with six CSEC and two City & Guilds subjects. I want to be able to achieve something out of life, but given my current situation that goal seems impossible. I can see why so many persons go and live in another country due to lack of opportunities. What I would like to know is, why is it so hard to get a job in Jamaica as a young person?

--Jobless

CAREERS: I commend you on the subjects you've achieved so far, in pursuit of your ambitions.

Your desire to achieve something out of life is one which is common to every normal person. What is also common, is that everyone who achieved something out of life, felt at some point, that his or her goals seemed impossible, given current circumstances at that point. This latter fact is often overlooked, with the effect that many people lose hope and surrender to despair.

You cannot afford to give in to hopelessness, however. Acquiescing to the seductive lull of 'learned helpless' can't be an option. As famous author Norman Cousins asserted, "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live."

That greatest loss is a loss of hope. You must keep hope alive, no matter what. The moment you allow the embers of hope to die, is when your goal really becomes impossible. Remember: whilst there's life, there's hope.

Regarding your question, there are many factors contributing to the 37 per cent youth unemployment rate among the 14-24 Jamaican age cohort. This figure represents 72,000 young men and women who might well be asking the same question.

Considering that the national unemployment rate is 14.2 per cent, your question is an urgent one. Why the more than twice percentage rate of joblessness among young persons in Jamaica?

A cursory consideration of your question turns up the usual suspects: high debt-to-GDP ratio; high crime rate; residual effects of the global recession; challenging private sector environment. Analysing those factors would be interesting, even helpful in understanding the youth unemployment question.

My suggestion however, is that you ask the opposite question. That's because, in life, the quality of our lives depends upon the quality questions we ask. We tend to find the answers to the questions we ask.

So, here's a better question: How did the 134,900 youth between age 14-24 manage to find a job? What did they do?

You may discover that those employed peers had to persevere through disappointments and setbacks such as you're having now. But they never lost hope.

They also took consistent action toward getting a job. They told friends and family they were job-hunting. They distributed their resume among people in their network. Some studied the stories of people who had succeeded despite great odds, and drew inspiration.

My advice is to start talking to youth who have succeeded in getting a job. Learn how they think and the strategies they employed. Apply what you learn, and never give up.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of From Problems to Power and co-author of Profile of Excellence.

glenfordsmith@yahoo.com