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Employers prefer graduates with managerial and supervisory skills

Published:Saturday | August 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Lutonm, Senior Staff Reporter

IF YOU have not yet made a decision on the courses you intend to pursue this school year, it is probably not a bad idea to think about labour-market demands before making a choice.

A new study published by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security says employers prefer tertiary-level graduates with managerial and supervisory skills.

The survey reveals there is increased demand among employers for persons with levels two and three certification at the vocational level.

Employers also say they would rather employ secondary-school leavers with accounting and information-technology backgrounds.

The study claims that 69 per cent of organisations report a shortage of special skills across sectors.

But Pearnel Charles, the minister of labour, says a shortage of skills does not necessarily translate to vacancy.

"In every area that we have discovered a shortage of skilled workers, we have found workers that need to be upgraded and to be certified. We also have skilled workers in particular fields that can be reskilled," Charles said, while pointing out that more than 40,000 Jamaicans lost jobs during the recession.

Educators needed

The labour study has pointed to the need for educators such as science, mathematics, Spanish and special-education teachers.

Speech therapists and early childhood teachers are also said to be in high demand.

The latest data published in the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica indicate that the number of educators trained in the country has decreased from 5,984 in 2006 to 4,137 in 2008.

The labour ministry has listed agriculturists among the occupations for which there is a great demand.

Despite the massive push by the Government to grow the economy by encouraging greater agricultural production, only 31 trained persons graduated from universities in 2008, the lowest since 2005 when 94 graduated.

Computer technology and programming, areas listed as being ripe for employment, have seen a decrease in tertiary graduates, from 949 in 2005, to 614 in 2008.

Charles has said it is time that labour demands are taken into consideration when education policies are being set.

"The Ministry of Education, in its curriculum planning, has to look again at the curriculum so we start to train people where there are high-skill demands," Charles told The Gleaner.

A few of the skills needed in today's workforce

Medical doctors

Pharmacy technicians

Surgical technologists

Registered nurses

Practical nurses

Computer technicians

Call-centre workers








Air-conditioning technicians

Mechanical engineers

Auto mechanics

Motor-vehicle repairmen

Industrial security guards (great demand)

Agricultural workers

Office clerks



Information technology

Data operators

Web designer


Drapery makers

Fashion designers

Financial service workers

Accounts and payroll clerks


Multimedia personnel

Teachers: Science, mathematics, special education, Spanish, early childhood

Speech therapists




Biomedical engineers