Fri | Dec 14, 2018

JaRistotle’s Jottings | The magic of opportunity

Published:Thursday | July 19, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sterling
France’s Kylian Mbappe juggles the ball during the official training session on the eve of the final against Croatia at the 2018 World Cup in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday.
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The just-concluded FIFA 2018 World Cup was an extremely entertaining and interesting tournament, reminding me that despite living in a world of different peoples, integration, acceptance and opportunity can make remarkable differences in one's life.

Social media was awash with posts about the ethnic make-up of the French and English teams with their many 'non-indigenous' players, stars in their own right who earned their places on their respective teams. Let's talk about talent, opportunity and success.

 

Talent

 

There is no doubt that players like Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling have risen to the top of their game not only because of their talent, but also because of their hard work. More importantly, they were the beneficiaries of opportunities to put their talents to good use.

Mbappe's parents are not natives of France, but he is. The question is, would he be where he is today if he had been born and raised in either of his parents' native lands, where opportunities to showcase his talents may not have been as plentiful? Hardly likely. And then, there is Sterling, who, had he remained in Jamaica, would probably be starring for a local premiere league club with minimal hope of attracting the attention that matters, or getting that all-important opportunity.

 

How important is opportunity?

 

Success has many contributing factors. First, there must be ability. Second, that ability must not be taken for granted; there must be a willingness to learn, to continuously make sacrifices to improve. Thereafter, it is largely about opportunity: being in the right place at the right time, being seen by the right people.

We have extremely talented athletes in Jamaica, as we have super intelligent youngsters, gifted artisans, artists and the like. We also have a plethora of individuals who may not be as gifted, but who are willing to learn, improve their knowledge and skills, and give of their best to earn an honest living. The problem is, opportunities are not readily forthcoming. Talents go to waste, enthusiasm and willingness are displaced by circumstances. Take what you can get, you have to make a living one way or the other.

 

Jamaica, land of opportunities?

 

An environment where talent is constantly being scouted, where learning not only encompasses the transformation of individuals from 'untapped potential' to high performers but also the shaping of attitudes, is key to empowering people to take charge of their own destinies and to attract life-enhancing opportunities.

Jamaica is saturated with learning institutions offering skills training and tertiary-level education, but opportunities to put such training and education to good use are scarce. Invariably, opportunities are contingent on who you know, political loyalties, and willingness to 'let off in order to get'. Academics and public commentators have estimated that as much as 80 per cent of skilled and tertiary-educated Jamaicans have migrated in order to avail themselves of more and better opportunities elsewhere. Can we blame them?

 

Game changer

 

Our nurses and teachers are routinely poached by overseas recruiters. this speaks volumes to the quality of these professionals. But why allow the foreigners to poach? They want our skilled labour, so let's give them people with the right knowledge, skills and attitude. Treat skilled labour as an export. We have the factory.

Surely, it is within the government's power to undertake such an investment regardless of perceivably overwhelming costs, considering that the costs concomitant to vast numbers of uneducated, unskilled and unemployed people kicking stone for a living will be unsustainably higher. After all, the devil finds work for idle hands.

Opportunity won't come knocking just so, but if it does, we must be ready.

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