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LETTER OF THE DAY - Educate workforce first, then provide jobs

Published:Friday | January 27, 2012 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I operate a relatively small agro-processing firm that exports to the United States and other overseas markets.

Recently, two of our senior staff members retired. Word went out that we had a vacancy, and we started receiving a flood of applications.

On review, we noted that approximately 95 per cent of the applicants did not have any passes in their CXC exams or did not finish school, and hence had to be disqualified.

The US recently introduced new legislation, The Food Safety Modernisation Act, that became effective January 1, 2012. This act requires documentation of daily activities, many of which will have to be monitored and completed by the line staff on the factory floor.

The employees must have a full grasp of all the processes involved and must be able to communicate these effectively. As a result, we had to take a decision to employ only people with a minimum of two CXC subjects going forward.

The world is demanding a more educated workforce. We talk about creating more jobs, but this cannot be done with the large pool of unskilled workers that are now in the system.

Unsustainable employment

Educating the workforce cannot be done overnight and, as such, I do not see the job situation for the majority of the population improving anytime soon. Their employment, if any, will not be sustainable and will be limited to government social programmes and/or casuals earning the minimum wage.

The days of just getting someone off the street to work in factories are fast coming to an end. If we employ individuals without the proper prerequisites, we risk, ultimately, jeopardising our businesses.

Factories can no longer look only to the local markets and are increasingly relying on exports. The standards being imposed on us are First World. The fact that we are a Third World country is irrelevant.

This is the reality. Either we conform or get out of the way. The choice is ours.

P. ANDREW GRAY

Gray's Pepper Products Ltd

Sav-la-Mar, Westmoreland