THE EDITOR, Sir:
The job prospects for our people have never been more dismal. It pains my heart to see so many of our young people who are eager to work unable to find employment.
The harsh reality is that the world of work has been changing for a very long time. A large part of the reason for this change has been significant strides in the development and use of technology.
The single world economy has also played a critical role in this transformation. Many new jobs and opportunities have been created by all this, while large numbers of jobs have disappeared from the workplace. Unfortunately, in Jamaica, we are still preparing our students for some of these jobs that have long disappeared.
You see, the main crisis in our schools today is irrelevance. The world has moved from the industrial age to what Daniel Pink refers to as the 'Free Agent Nation', in his book by the same name.
According to Pink, "In the old social contract of work, the organisation offered the individual security - and, in return, the individual gave the organisation loyalty." That all started to crumble when outsourcing became the order of the day.
We need a significant paradigm shift in how we prepare our people for the world of work. More students should be leaving schools with a business plan rather than a résumé.
I have always been of the view that if you are an authentic and honest person, you are not likely to be 'successful' in the corporate world. You see, you are expected to toe the company line at all times. Not to do so is to be regarded as not being on board. And so individuals sacrifice their freedoms in order to be accepted. When the CEO asks for your view on an issue, most feel compelled to give the position that they believe coincides with that of the CEO.
A direct consequence of the high and rising unemployment and underemployment, particularly among our young people in Jamaica, is that many end up doing entry-level jobs just to survive. The ever-growing call-centre industry is one that absorbs large numbers of these young people each year.
Unfortunately, these companies are like employment turnstiles, with high turnover of personnel. Companies (largely foreign) operate like a law unto themselves, offering low-paying, high-stress customer contact jobs in often pre-industrial revolution conditions. Their human resource practices demand urgent investigation by the Ministry of Labour.
We should not settle for inhumane conditions just because the country has surplus labour. The law must be observed.