Glenford Smith, Career writer
Gleaner news coordinator Anastasia Cunningham certainly ignited a firestorm of passionate responses to her September 6 lead story titled 'Unemployment hell'.
Within a day, there was more than a hundred comments on The Gleaner's website.
It's not hard to understand why. There are tens of thousands of qualified graduates who share the plight of Kanika Tomlinson, the unenviable subject of the news story. Like her, they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in earning various academic degrees. Many went into debt to do so, but now cannot repay their loans or provide for themselves because of prolonged unemployment.
In the article, Jamaica Employers' Federation president, Wayne Chen, reportedly suggested that graduates band together and create their own enterprises. Many of the persons who commented dismissed this idea as being impractical.
This begs the question, what then is the answer to the unemployment dilemma of Kanika Tomlinson and others like her? Is there a way for them to escape unemployment hell?
I believe there is. And the first step on that pathway is a change in thinking. University and college graduates have to boldly confront the stark reality of the new work world. Performing brilliantly at school is no longer a guarantee of getting a good job, or any job at all.
Yes, a lucky few will always find employment. The vast majority, however, will end up struggling for years without steady employment, like Kanika. It's a waste of time to keep insisting that the Government or private sector ensure you have a job when you graduate.
It is far wiser to deal with the reality as it is. You have to find a way out. That requires that you adopt a mindset of determined self-responsibility.
This mindset requires that you be adaptable. It's great that you have a master's degree in law, marketing and public relations, or some other exotic-sounding field. But if the job market simply doesn't need your speciality, wisdom dictates that you be flexible.
Try finding a job in some other field, or creatively leverage your knowledge in a niche where there's a need you can fulfil. This requires that you learn how to use your creative imagination to see hidden opportunities. It also requires a positive mental attitude based upon healthy self-esteem.
Ultimately, every graduate must realise that surviving in the new work world demands a self-employment approach. That means looking for 'work' which people need done and are willing to pay for, rather than merely a 'job', which may be hard to come by.
The knowledge and skills of successfully self-employed individuals are far different from anything learned in the formal education system. Formal education only prepares you for a job, to work for someone else. Increasingly, more people, like Kanika, are realising that this is a dead end.
You have to now match your formal credentials with real world self-employment survival skills.
These are rarely taught in school. You have to study successful entrepreneurs to learn them on your own.
A great place to start is to read The 80/20 Individual: How to Build on the 20% of What You Do Best by Richard Koch.
Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book 'From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunitiesfirstname.lastname@example.org