St Mary's youth urged to embrace non-traditional jobs
While many of Jamaica's young people are hunting for new and emerging avenues to make money, Travis Graham, parish manager at the Social Development Commission (SDC) in St Mary, is concerned that some youngsters in St Mary are still stuck in the traditional ways of job searching.
Graham made reference to data he collected from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and the SDC, which show the parish having a population of 115,000, of which 60 per cent are youth. Among that cohort, close to 30 per cent are unemployed.
Speaking during a Gleaner Growth Forum held at Beaches Resort in Boscobel, St Mary, the parish manager said there was heavy dependence on traditional jobs, specifically farming.
"For St Mary, what our data has shown is that a lot of the household heads in the parish, their academic qualification most times does not pass the grade-nine level. What we find is that this will now impact children going to school because a lot of emphasis is not directly on education, but really on survival," he said.
"There are also the psycho-logical issues as well. We would want to see more youths having that will power to elevate themselves from poverty or possessing that self-reliance. Due to the prevalence of subsistence farming, there is not that high level of exposure to other areas such as animation, entrepreneurship, technological programmes, among other emerging income-earning platforms," he continued.
Graham, however, told journalists that he had a positive outlook for the parish, indicating that there were signs of progress among the population, especially the youth.
"There is a lot of creative talent in the parish such as music, drama, and the arts in general. For most persons, however, their first thought is to work on a ship, a hotel, or go abroad. My view is that a lot of the skills training that takes place outside of the technical areas is more focused on the hospitality sector, and what you find is that the area is saturated. It's like a syndrome," he said.
"I am hopeful, however, because we are seeing a shift, and persons are finding ways of being creative while making an income at the same time."
He added: "In Mile Gully, they are using wax to make hair oil. They are doing nutmeg powder, pimento powder. In Jeffery Town, they have produced a sweet potato pudding mix and breadfruit flour and are using those same products to run a breakfast programme in the basic schools across the parish. So I'm positive that greater days are ahead for the parish."