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Graduates lack soft skills on the job - Wan

Published:Friday | October 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

PRESIDENT OF the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) David Wan has said there is a huge gap among university graduates when it comes to displaying soft skills on the job.

Wan, who was speaking with The Gleaner following the University College of the Caribbean (UCC) memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing that took place at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday, said tertiary institutions must find a way of including these skills in the curriculum.

The MOU inked a deal for a US$5 million business processing outsourcing facility to be built in Portmore, St Catherine. The agreement signed between the UCC and Portmore Holdings Limited will bring to reality a 4,000 square feet facility capable of seating 550 agents in the first instance and expandable to 1,500 agents depending on demand.

Wan said despite partnerships that might emerge, values and morals are imperative.

"This is a trend that, personally, I have observed. Some graduates have no manners, plain and simple. The expected standard of proper behaviour in the workplace, teamwork, their attire all these basic issues are big gaps that have been noticeable more and more," he said.

"We don't pay a lot of attention to this when we are training our young people, and this too is important. I believe it is a significant component of the overall work package. The truth is, we can't absorb everybody, but those that have been employed are struggling in their overall attitude to work and I think if we are serious about growth, we must address these areas," Wan told The Gleaner.

Important milestone

In the meantime, Dr Winston Adams, president of the UCC, said the signing signifies an important milestone in tertiary education.

"We are a university college, so it's not about the traditional areas alone. We are constantly seeking new areas in which students can embark upon because the truth is, a large group of persons are not able to matriculate for the traditional areas, a primary reason being cost," the president said.

"This is a historic and unprecedented move by the UCC. We recognise the need for making tertiary-level education a reality to all Jamaicans, and we are committed to the cause in making the country a place to live, work and do business," he said.