Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Elroy Galbraith was among the hundreds of proud graduates of the University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona, last Saturday.
He left the university with an MSc in Sociology, among the most saturated areas of study in Jamaica, and he is well aware that only a small percentage of graduates will find jobs locally.
But Galbraith is not daunted. He chose sociology out of defiance, despite the high unemployment rate for graduates in that discipline, and now he is confident that his choice is paying off.
"For me, I felt put into a cubbyhole and I wasn't allowed free range as to what I wanted to become later in life. So when I saw sociology as something that I can do and something that should be profitable later in life, I moved away from the law and medicine and decided to take it on," Galbraith told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
He fell in love with the theoretical level of the discipline in high school, and pursued it at the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination level, and later at university.
"I like the theories, practice, and especially the area of research," Galbraith told Gleaner editors and reporters.
With an aptitude for the subject, and with studying coming easily to him, he went in pursuit, even as others suggested that he should do law or medicine.
Sociology became his defiant choice, but it was also helped by labour-market reports, showing various avenues available for someone with that training.
For Galbraith, the lack of research in some critical areas locally has pushed him in the direction.
Research in demand
"Research is a very in-demand skill in today's world. A lot of companies are data driven, and being able to conduct quantitative and qualitative research gives you a foot in the door in any market," he argued.
"I have a certain skill set that is of benefit to any company in Jamaica, especially in research. I have worked with doctors and professors at the university on various research projects, and I have worked with international clients on research.
"I have also been recommended to work with local clients on their research projects, and I am currently employed as a researcher. So I have the skill set, the experience and the confidence to execute whatever task I am asked to do," he asserted.
According to Galbraith, as the world opens up, more and more exciting areas for studies are emerging, and are continuing to emerge.
"We have to educate our students about the available options and getting the opportunity to explore them. But we have to have the drive to step out and sell our skills and the work ethics to really keep at it," Galbraith said.