THE EDITOR, Sir:
As a human resource practitioner, for long I have been concerned about how poorly we use our human resources in Jamaica. Too many of our finest minds are either underemployed or without any positive active engagement. Yet we continue to expend significant resources preparing our people and encouraging them to prepare themselves. To what end?
Available jobs are usually advertised in order to satisfy some internal organisational protocol and the company/institution merely goes through the fraudulent motions of an interview process when they have already decided who the holder of the position will be. Then they have the gall in these advertisements to let potential applicants know up front that they thank them for applying but are not likely to even acknowledge their application, let alone call them for an interview.
When the private sector engages in these acts, at least the consequence is personal, and shows up in their anaemic bottom line. But when the Government does the same, employing friends and supporters despite ability, the entire nation suffers. I have no difficulty whatsoever with Government wanting to hire people of like thinking in critical areas of national life, so long as those persons are qualified to do the job.
The reality, over our last 50 years of Independence, has been that party purity is more important than being up to the task. And we wonder why we haven't experienced more progress?
I remember going through the airport some years ago and an immigration officer asked where I was heading. I told her I was going to attend a conference in Las Vegas, to which she responded, "I always wondered how, with all the educated people we have in Jamaica always attending colleges/universities and conferences all over the world, how they can't fix Jamaica and make it better." That thought has stuck with me for many years since.
The answer, I believe, is that we have never found a way as a society to harness and apply the best minds to address our nation's challenges at any one time. The real sadness of all this is that it doesn't matter where you come from in this society - uptown, downtown or rural - it was Jamaica and the Jamaican taxpayer that prepared you for wherever you now are.
Locking out of the productive workforce one half of the intelligentsia for four, five or 10 years at a time will only serve to further impoverish this potentially prosperous nation. Had Jamaica been a corporation, its board, having examined the return on investment in higher education, might be forced to suspend any such further investment, as the returns are well below expectations.
Our continuous poor use of our human capital stock is tantamount to perpetrating an injustice on the society - a society that invested so heavily through taxation, blood, sweat and tears in the development of that human capital.
But then I've always held the view that the real issue we face in Jamaica is not poverty, not crime, not joblessness, but injustice!