Athaliah Reynolds, Staff Reporter
Thousands of job seekers line up yesterday at the headquarters of the Christian Fellowship Outreach Ministry at the intersection of Dunrobin Avenue and Red Hills Road, St Andrew, hoping to be among the 200 to be recruited. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Thousands of job applicants turned out at the headquarters of the Christian Fellowship Outreach Ministry in St Andrew yesterday morning, hoping to snatch a place among the 200 being recruited as warders for the Department of Correctional Services.
Nickeisha Barnett was among the more than 3,000 individuals who showed up. Standing outside the gates of the church property, with a letter-size envelope containing some of her most important documents, the 21-year-old high-school graduate watched as several young applicants, like herself, were turned away.
Barnett, who travelled from Portmore, St Catherine, said she started her trek to Kingston some time after 5 a.m. to get to the location by 6 a.m. However, she was turned away and told to come back today because she was not wearing "proper office attire".
"They tell mi that I mus' try again tomorrow (today) because I didn't wear a jacket," said Barnett, who was clad in a beige knee-length skirt and a white long-sleeved blouse.
Barnett further told The Gleaner that despite having four subjects at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) level and two at the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) level, she has not had a steady job since her graduation from the Garvey Maceo High School some five years ago.
The Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2007, published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica, shows that there are 124,500 unemployed persons in the labour force, with females accounting for 65.4 per cent. Jamaica's youth unemployment rate is three times that of adults, at 23.6 per cent.
The latest Labour Force Bulletin, compiled in October 2007, also showed that the 14- to 24-year-old age group had the highest number of persons outside the labour force, at 39.2 per cent, or 267,000. Males accounted for 37.1 per cent of that number.
Yesterday, Garfield Young also turned up at the Christian Fellowship Outreach Centre, hoping to be recruited as a correctional officer.
Securing monthly salary
Young told The Gleaner that his field is 'refrigeration' but that he had not been able to secure a regular monthly salary for some time.
However, after waiting almost four hours, he was met with the disappointing news that, at age 38, he was three years older than the cut-off limit for the post.
Although Young will now have to start the search for employment all over again, Barnett decided to take her chances at becoming a correctional officer once more. She told The Gleaner she planned to return to Kingston this morning in a jacket suit.
However, her chances of being selected for this year's recruitment drive might be quite slim.
Deputy Commissioner Aileen Wolfe-Stephens, who is in charge of human resources management and community services at the Department of Correctional Services, told The Gleaner that despite the fact that close to 90 per cent of the individuals who turned up for the all-island recruitment were qualified and trainable, there was clearly not enough space to accommodate all.
Wolfe-Stephens said approximately 156 people turned up in Montego Bay, St James, but only about a third of that number was selected for the preliminary phase. In May Pen, Clarendon, she said just about 100 were chosen from a pool of more than 500. However, at the end of what is to be a very rigorous examination process, only 200 individuals will emerge as correctional officers.
Who is a correctional officer?
A correctional officer, also referred to as a prison warder, is a person charged with the responsibility for the supervision, safety and security of individuals in a prison, jail or similar form of secure custody.
Applicants are required to:
Pass the prescribed tests and interviews. Be between 18-35 years. Be no less than 165 cm tall. Be fully immunised. Have no body piercings and/or tattoos. Undergo a medical and physical examination.
Candidates must be successful in at least one or more CXC or GCE O' Levels or its equivalent.
Must sit the department's entrance examination.
Must be mentally and physically fit and without any disabilities.
Must be able to pass a physical and medical examination.