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Top of the class - CMI and Edna Manley College getting best employment offers before graduation

Published:Tuesday | April 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

The top two tertiary institutions in Jamaica, which offer graduates the best prospects for employment, are the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) and the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. The students are being offered jobs even before they graduate.

That was the revelation made by Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, in an interview with The Gleaner. She indicated that her ministry has been forced to make several changes as a result of the trend.

“Every nine out of 10 students who go to CMI will leave with a job, even before graduation. We have been looking at the global trends as a ministry, and among the top jobs and services in demand, are in the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry, cultural and the creative industry, value added agriculture, in addition to logistics and shipping,” she told The Gleaner

“Grandparents use to tell you that music and jobs in the Arts can’t put food on the table but right now, Edna Manley (College) is struggling to keep their musicians because, before the students leave school, they are being approached and this is all because things have changed,” Hanna said.

The minister stressed that it was important that the young people be wise in their decisions and that they should evaluate carefully, the demand for their career choices.

“I will never say to anybody do not look at a theoretical option, in instances where you might want to teach or do research. But what we are encouraging persons to do is, before you engage in the investment of higher education, you need to understand and identify your options in the job market. You might have had a dream, but you have to ensure that the dream can become a reality,” the youth minister charged.

Hanna added, “As a ministry we have had to restructure and we are still reshaping the policy trajectory that we have employed over the years, in terms of the kinds of industries we were going to create and training that we have to do. We have to be doing a lot of research, enhancing our reporting and dissemination of information in ensuring that they are in the best interest of our young people.”

Executive Director at the CMI, Dr Fritz Pinnock, noted that all their programmes were tailored to meet the demands of the job market. He also stressed the importance of policy makers investing in the preservation of Jamaica’s talent and creative skills.

“Our last trace of study showed that 87 per cent of our graduates are employed or have moved unto higher studies within six months after leaving the institution. We made sure that all our programmes are what the market needs,” he said.

“A lot of resources are still tailored in a traditional way and we have to change that. There are a few key institutions around, the GC Foster College (in St Catherine) being one of them and Edna Manley (College) due to the fact that they are meeting the demand that exists.  I believe we have to support these institutions to the fullest. Things are changing and we have to adapt,” Pinnock said.

Dr Nicholeen DeGrasse-Johnson, principal of the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, echoed similar sentiments, adding that more support was needed to fund students pursuing careers in the creative industry.

“Particularly our musicians, graphic designers and persons in visual communication are approached by their third year sometimes even second,” she declared.

“The problem we have, however, is that when they are employed, it can be a struggle to be committed to school and complete their degrees. The money, travelling the world, the fame among other perks are all attractive and so even though most will eventually complete their degrees, it can be a challenge,” Johnson said.