Youngsters in western Jamaica reject the notion of staying in the country
The call to remain in Jamaica and start their own businesses as opposed to migrating to other countries in the hope of attaining success is not being viewed as a viable option by many young people in western Jamaica.
In a series of interviews with youngsters from the western region, the general consensus was that staying in Jamaica would not be a good idea based on the lack of available capital to start businesses and low salaries on the local job market.
"What I see happening, based on people that I know, is that a lot of people leave Jamaica for the Unites States or Canada after they get their education because of their need to earn the capital required to start businesses of their own," said Marshalla Tomlinson, a 30-year-old administrative assistant in Montego Bay.
"In Jamaica, the way the economy is, you go to university, you come out with your degree, and you try to get a job. If you succeed in getting a job, you hardly ever get a job that pays you for your qualifications," she continued.
"A lot of people also take out student loans, so they have to think about day-to-day bills along with student loans. It is very hard for you to work in Jamaica and actually come up with the capital that is required for you to make a feasible start."
Thirty-year-old Shaneka Carey of Wakefield in Trelawny said the high cost to register new companies is a major hindrance for young entrepreneurs.
"The prospect of starting your own business in Jamaica, legally, is daunting ... . Take into account that to register a company costs approximately $30,000, and for a young individual with a small amount of capital, that is a steep hill to climb," said Carey. "Further, the dismal exchange rates and what seems to be a plethora of opportunities abroad tip the scale away from Jamaica, making it far more attractive to migrate."
Dwight Johnson, who operates a call-centre business in Montego Bay, was more optimistic about the chances for growth of local entrepreneurship but stressed that young business owners must be given help to thrive in Jamaica.
MARKET NOT WELCOMING
"Entrepreneurship is a good investment for the economy, but we do not make the market feel welcoming for entrepreneurs.
It is very difficult for them to get into and operate a business in Jamaica," said Johnson. "Otherwise, it is good for the economy. What is needed is
to provide them with more opportunities in terms of the assistance they need - financial and otherwise - in getting started."
Speaking at a recent graduation ceremony at the Montego Bay Community College, the Reverend Hartley Perrin, custos rotulorum of Westmoreland, said young people in Jamaica need to be more innovative and willing to create their own employment.
"Unless and until we have learned to create our own jobs, we will feel that sense of disappointment. When the challenges come, especially with respect to not getting employed, do not allow the lure of overseas travel to take you away from Jamaica," Perrin urged the graduands. "As long as we continue to move away from our country without recognising the need to build our country to the point where we will get the benefits we deserve, we are going to be forever in danger and hardships."