Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Architect says brain drain depleting construction sector

Published:Monday | May 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Several architects and engineers are predicting a dismal future for the local construction sector, indicating that scores of young graduates have to migrate because there are no incentives in Jamaica that will encourage them to stay.

Douglas Stiebel, a fellow of the Jamaican Institute of Architects (JIA), told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week that many graduates are forced to either venture into other fields or bolt overaseas.

"It's already looking dim; it's not an issue of foreseeing the future - it's already happening. We are graduating more than 100 students a year from the Caribbean School (of Architecture) and maybe 15 or 20 per cent are getting employment. The top percentage of the cohort always find jobs, but all the others are there and so they have to find something else," he said.

He noted that there are better opportunities in countries such as Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.

"Most of the architects that are graduating now are looking for jobs outside of Jamaica and in the Caribbean because the firms do not have enough work and so they are not hiring. A lot of them are left with no other choice but to leave, or they are going into other areas like graphics and other things that are closely aligned. They are not staying in the field," he said.

"Whoever can find jobs will stay home; there are a few who will be hired. However, a lot of them are going to St Kitts (& Nevis), Antigua (& Barbuda), Barbados and Trinidad because the school is a Caribbean school, so a lot of them are looking for jobs throughout the Caribbean. The market is much better in Trinidad and Barbados, especially Trinidad," he said.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com