FORMER PRIME Minister Edward Seaga has described as no longer promising, the atmosphere into which young people now graduate from universities.
Seaga, the chancellor of the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), said the distressed state of the economy has made jobs scarce, and in some cases, has led to skilled graduates having to settle for jobs for which they are overqualified.
"It is a distressing situation for young people who have spent years studying based on promise of employment only to have a harder problem confronting them because of rising unemployment, now 16.2 per cent," Seaga said while addressing UTech's graduation ceremony last Saturday at the National Arena.
"Part of this problem is the consequence of an economy for which heavy doses of bitter medicine have been prescribed. But the truth is that, without that prescribed medicine by the International Monetary Fund, the illness would be worse and the recovery longer. So the choice is not pleasant," the former prime minister added.
RANGE OF DISCIPLINES
More than 1,500 students graduated from the university, with a few being the cohort of PhD - five awarded doctorates in pharmacy, and one in computer science.
A number of other graduates were awarded master's, bachelor's, and associate degrees as well as diplomas. The range of discipline covered the areas of business studies, engineering and computing, health and sciences, sports, hospitality, law, and the built environment.
Seaga, who was the keynote speaker, said another major contributor to graduates finding it difficult to secure jobs is that too many persons are studying in areas that offer little job prospect.
He said the country needs to undertake a manpower survey to identify the types of skills that are needed in the country.
"This survey [would] guide students in selecting areas of study that will provide prosperity after graduation. Without this research, many mistakes are made and time wasted," Seaga said.
The UTech chancellor noted that information and communications technology is continuing to expand and "is now responsible for a substantial segment of the graduation cake".
He urged: "Let us immerse our interest in such new areas of technology, particularly the remark-able 3D printing process, which can produce solid objects from a new type of printing machine."
UTech President Errol Morrison said the institution will continue to train people and ensure they are ready for the working world.
"We are putting out graduates at this level with great specification of science and technology for the development in Jamaica and the region," he added.
"We want to work with the Government to ensure that they can use these new cadre of information going forward, so we are here for the Government and the Government should be here for us."