Rural Expres: Young people encouraged to remain positive despite unemployment
PORT MARIA, St Mary:MINISTER OF Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, last year, said most young Jamaicans faced similar problems, irrespective of whether they lived in rural or Corporate Area.
More than 12 months later, little has changed and there appears to be more evidence supporting her assertion. According to the United Nations, globally, there are more than 70 million people in their late teens and early 20s currently searching for work.
Clearly, high levels of unemployment and limited access to finance are universal problems, but what can young people living in underdeveloped communities do to increase their chances of securing a job?
According to Kendra Watson, a monitoring and evaluation assistant at the Youth Information Centre (YIC) in Port Maria, St Mary, volunteerism is the answer.
Watson, 20, believes that in a highly competitive job market, young people must decide on a career path and try to gain as much experience as possible within that sector by offering their services to organisations and companies free of charge.
She told Rural Xpress: "Instead of just waiting around for the right job to come, I think young people should volunteer their services. That way, you get to learn all the necessary tasks you have to perform and life skills such as how to act and behave on the job.
"Volunteering furthers your development and will help you obtain a job because it gives you much more experience."
The senior youth empowerment officer for the National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD) in St Mary, Anisa Wilson, agrees.
However, Wilson, 33, acknowledges that the issues related to youth unemployment are manifold. She explained: "I recently did some research and the findings were alarming in the sense that some of the things that affect youths getting a job could be as simple as them not having a pair of shoes.
"We know unemployment is there and it's high, but what are some of the factors that are preventing young people from getting jobs?
"One of the things that was very eye-opening for me was that some young people don't even have the clothes to wear to a job interview, and a simple thing like that can be a barrier."
Despite limited access to funding and resources, every month, the YIC in St Mary engages around 1,000 young people, aged between 14 and 25 years old, with free Internet access and guidance counselling, outreach services and employability training programmes.
Like Hanna, centre manager and NCYD youth empowerment officer Omar Marston believes youth issues are globalised and utilises the facility to help them prepare to enter the job market.
"Young people in St Mary face the same issues as a youths living anywhere in the world," said Marston, 30. "One of the biggest issues they face is unemployment and coping in a society where they do not have money for themselves.
"We assist with resume and letter writing, and contact employers to find out who has vacancies. We teach employability skills where we show young people how to dress for, approach and conduct themselves in a job interview, Marston told Rural Xpress.
"But mostly, we encourage them to maintain a good heart, despite their living arrangements because, of course, they are sometimes tempted to be negative due to the economic climate."