Brain drain crippling Westmoreland, says chamber boss
Westmoreland is suffering from a major brain drain as increasing numbers of highly trained and qualified workers are leaving the parish to live overseas or migrate to other regions of Jamaica, says a leading business lobbyist.
Moses Chybar, interim president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce (WCC), said infrastructural development and a rise in the standard of living would be strong pull factors appealing to residents who might be tempted to leave.
“The brilliant scholars, those who are graduating with all these high grades and moving on to become doctors and scientists, they don’t stay in Westmoreland,” said Chybar, who was speaking at Wednesday’s relaunch of the WCC at Hotel Commingle in the parish capital, Savanna-la-Mar.
“Most of them are either going overseas or going to Kingston. That, I think, is creating a negative impact on the community because we need to engage some of those people to stay here in Westmoreland to help build the community.”
The chamber boss believes that the situation will not ease unless the right climate is created to convince skilled residents to stay and develop the parish instead of leaving.
Chybar said that the relaunched chamber should find creative ways for business entities to engage gifted scholars as part of the overall plan to build Westmoreland into a viable parish with opportunities for advancement.
“If we are not visible, in a way that they can feel that there is something powerful going on here, that there is a movement, that we can jump on and get going, then they are going to go,” he noted.
Chybar singled out entities such as Gray’s Pepper, Easispice, and the frozen processed meats division of GraceKennedy as some of the domestic companies that have global reach and that are proof that positive things are happening in Westmoreland.
“When I travel and look on (supermarket) shelves overseas, I not only see products bottled in Jamaica, but products from right here in Westmoreland,” said Chybar.