Employers report skills gap

Published: Sunday | December 15, 2013 Comments 0

More than 40 per cent of vacancies on the job market are for managerial or technical personnel, with employers also reporting difficulty in recruiting a wider range of skilled workers, according to a new report from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

The 'Labour Market Study 2012: A Guide to Employment Opportunities in Jamaica', released, last Monday, says more than half of companies surveyed have restructured, resulting in the need for more highly skilled workers.

"In order to enhance growth and remain viable, some organisations invested in new machinery, engaged in staff restructuring exercises or focused on core business. More than half of the businesses in the manufacturing sector indicated that they had reorganised their operations during 2009 to 2011," the report said.


The types of workers mostly in demand as a result of the reorganisation were from the 'profes-sionals, senior officials and technicians' segment.

The labour ministry began fieldwork for this its second labour market study in December 2011. The survey included 606 organisations spanning all parishes.

The study noted that eight per cent of the employers indicated that they recruited workers from abroad, with almost half or 46 per cent citing an inability to find suitable candidates locally, while 17.5 per cent said that local workers had poor work ethic.

"Most of the employees from overseas - 85 per cent - were recruited to fill positions in the 'professional, senior officials and technicians' occupational group. They included gemologists, medical officers, senior executives/managers, engineers and teachers."

Vacancies during the survey period were mainly attributed to "an inability to find the skills needed for the positions and a decline in business operations".

Survey respondents said that they needed workers with, for example, administrative, portfolio management, driving, accounting, customer service and teaching skills. They also indicated the need for skilled workers such as forklift operators, urologists, curators for museums, and pharmacists.

Skill shortage was predominantly in the 'wholesale and retail' and 'manufacturing' sectors.

Approximately 58 per cent of the employers reported that they provided skills training for their staff, mostly done in-house.


Training needs were identified by 34 per cent of the employers in areas such as upholstering, mechanical engineering, welding, geographic information system, customer service, accounting, financial management, and risk management.

The report also states that approximately 33 per cent of the employers anticipated an increase in the number of workers over the next two years; 26 per cent indicated no change, and seven per cent projected a decrease.

The types of occupations expected to increase included auto mechanics, Chinese chefs, electrical technicians, engineers, machine operators and registered nurses; while declines were expected for dressmakers, laundry attendants and records clerks, the report said.

Almost half of the employers who anticipated an increase in employment foresaw an expansion in business, it adds.

A large percentage of the organisations in the 'electricity, water and gas' sector projected an increase in the number of employees.

Employers who expected a decrease in the number of workers attributed it to the lingering effects of the global recession and a need for restructuring, the report noted.


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