Embrace changing work culture, urges Dr Leahcim Semaj
Noted psychologist Dr Leahcim Semaj is urging the Government to use the country's current economic state to find workable solutions and push for youth employment to be the driver of a different economic reality if the idea of prosperity is to be achieved by the mass of the people.
Semaj, who was giving a motivational address at Wednesday's National Student Leaders Luncheon at the Eden Gardens Wellness Resort and Spa, said unless changing factors of employment are taken into account, Jamaica's youth unemployment rate could rise.
"Businesses must see the value in hiring our youth. What we must do is use this economic crisis in 2016 to find solutions," Semaj said.
"Youth must understand that it is good ideas that create wealth and prosperity and not money," the noted psychologist told the gathering of student leaders.
The group included several representatives from the National Youth Council, the National Secondary Schools Council, the Careers Advancement Programme (CAP), the Student Senate, and the Jamaica Youth Ambassador Programme.
He said Government, schools and labour unions must start considering some dramatic changes in job culture and urged the parties to change along with the rest of the world or be left behind.
According to Dr Semaj, the problem is made worse by the fact that 28 per cent of students reaching high-school level will leave to work in other countries.
"The statistics become even worse, as 43 per cent of university or college graduates also will leave Jamaica to work elsewhere. There is no way we can sustain wealth creation unless our people not only have jobs, but high-quality, satisfactory jobs," Semaj noted.
"The more educated our people become, the more likely that they will migrate," he added.
He said the prosperity label being banded about, while sounding good, would not be achievable unless Government pays attention to youth unemployment.
In the meantime, he urged the youth to change the, thinking patterns in order to effectively change how they go about securing education for employment.
The student leaders were encouraged to adopt a decisive departure from the usual way of looking at work in light of what Semaj calls the "New Work" Order, where the dynamics of technology and cheaper labour will make it increasingly difficult for the average Jamaican employee to compete on the world stage.
Youth unemployment in Jamaica currently stands at 30.2 per cent, a decrease in the first quarter of 2016 from 30.3 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The youth unemployment rate in Jamaica averaged 31.95 percent from 2012 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 37 per cent in the second quarter of 2013 and a record low of 28.2 per cent in the third quarter of 2015.