Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
The Government is being urged to seriously consider formalising the exportation of trained labour in the wake of the country's inability to absorb thousands of graduates ready for the workforce each year who are unable to find jobs.
Figures from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica show that up to April, 36,000 females and 26,000 males in the age group 20-24 years were unemployed. Experts also estimate that fewer than 25 per cent of the more than 40,000 tertiary graduates who have completed university this year will find jobs.
One University of the West Indies (UWI) graduate said Jamaica should begin formalising the export of labour.
Basil Jones Jr, who holds double majors in electronics and media and communication, wants the process fast-tracked.
"We should train professionals here in Jamaica and export them … . So when we train our medical doctors, our teachers, our sociologists, we push them out and say 'This is Brand Jamaica'," Jones posited during a Gleaner Editors' Forum on Wednesday.
Jones graduates this weekend from the UWI.
He said Jamaica was already benefiting by way of remittances and, as far as he was concerned, it was fair exchange. Unemployment figures would be reduced and formalising the process should be done to ensure the repayment of students' loans.
Jones' position is not new. More than a decade ago, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson proposed formalising the training and export of local professionals such as teachers and nurses.
DISCUSSIONS UNDER WAY
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites recently said he was in discussions with Chinese officials to look into the exportation of Jamaican teachers to Shanghai.
However, two forum participants knocked the idea.
Jordan Senior, who will graduate this weekend with a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science, said Jamaica was in dire need of professionals across the board, and the country should find ways to harness the talent within.
"We look towards other countries too much and we look for what we can do (in these countries) rather than try to create our own in different fields of study here," Senior argued.
"We must find ways to hone and keep talented Jamaicans to develop the country."
Senior, who up to Wednesday was unemployed, said greater attention must be paid to employing home-grown academics.
Mark-Paul Cowan, who graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and a Bachelor of Laws, also disagreed.
"If we are to look towards the future of our country, we really have to look at how we can do things for ourselves rather than look for external help for every single issue," Cowan said.