Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
JEF head says new graduates should put some eggs in overseas basket
WITH APPROXIMATELY 5,000 students being awarded degrees from the island's two leading tertiary institutions on the weekend, the Jamaica Employers' Federation (JEF) is already signalling to graduates that they should not rule out going overseas to seek employment.
Wayne Chen, who chairs the private sector grouping of employers, told The Gleaner yesterday that the prospect of finding jobs for tertiary graduates currently in the formal sector is "not wonderful".
Chen, while urging graduates not to lose hope, suggested persons pool their skills and resources and start businesses.
"I would never rule out, too, the prospects of candidates seeking employment overseas, even if it is for the short term, to broaden their horizons and learn new skills," Chen said.
Akierah Binns is already contemplating catching a flight to greener pastures.
Last week, the 21-year-old graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona, with first-class honours in media and communications. Binns said she had been job hunting since last December and was only able to land a job as an operator in a call centre last month.
"This has really shaken my belief in my country as to what possibility is here for me," Binns remarked yesterday.
She added: "People, over the years, have always said when you leave school, you have to be business-minded and you must not go looking for a job, but the fact of the matter is that I have a student loan to pay, and in order to open a business, you need capital. How would I get that capital? I would have to work."
For Jerold Davis, who graduated from the University of Technology on Saturday with a degree in banking and finance, the future looks dim.
"The direction this country seems to be going in is that you have to have connections, or what we call 'links'. I sent out more than 200 applications since May, and I only got one call-back. It's really frustrating," he said.
Data published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicate that the number of persons graduating from tertiary institutions has been on the increase. In its 2011 Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica report, STATIN said the output of tertiary institutions totalled 15,030 students, representing a 13.5 per cent increase over the previous year.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has told graduates to be wise when selecting their courses as the Government will only be able to provide resources for jobs that are relevant to the market.
"Students have to look at the courses they are signing up for and make sure that they are workforce relevant. Many find themselves with pretty pieces of paper with intrinsic value but don't have employability prospects," Thwaites told The Gleaner yesterday.
"We are not telling persons to stifle their dreams, but when all is said and done, the purpose of the education system is to produce rounded people who are intellectually satisfied and economically viable."