Approximately one-third of respondents to a new Jamaica labour market survey said they anticipated an increase in the workforce in the year ahead, while 150 employers said they planned to expand their businesses.
The findings are contained in the Labour Market Survey 2012: A Guide to Employment Oppor-tunities in Jamaica, which was unveiled at the Planning Institute of Jamaica's labour market forum in Kingston recently.
More than 600 organisations participated in the survey undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, covering all 14 parishes. Fieldwork began in December 2011.
The participants were asked to indicate changes they anticipated in the staff complement of their organisations.
According to the report, approximately 36 per cent of small enterprises had plans to increase their workforce. This was followed by 34.3 per cent for large establishments and 31.3 per cent for medium-sized enterprises.
Those most optimistic about an increase in the workforce were companies in the electricity, gas and water sector. In addition, "more than half of the employers in the hotel and restaurants, construction, financial intermediation, and business services sectors had a positive outlook," the report said.
However, employers in the mining and quarrying, and real estate and renting sectors predicted a reduction in the labour force, while those in public administration, and agriculture and health "felt that there would be no change," the report added.
The report said 54.5 per cent of small businesses, and 42.3 per cent of microenterprises indicted that they did not fill some vacancies due to declining commerce.
"This suggests that there is need for a policy to assist small and microenterprises so that they can remain viable," the report said.
It said "the small number of vacancies in the rural areas signifies the need for job creation in these parishes. This is important since poverty is highest in the rural areas."
In its recommendations, the ministry noted that overhaul of operations by manufacturing companies especially had led to new positions being created. It added that more companies in that segment need to do the same, but also notes the dampening effect of high energy and raw material costs.
"The implementation of the energy policy is essential in order to address the high cost of energy to employers. Agriculture could be expanded to provide raw materials for the manufacturing and hotel and restaurant sectors. In addition, it could reduce the country's food import bill," the report said.
Its long-term recommendation for addressing unemployment and poverty is that the promotion of entrepreneurship among employees, jobseekers and students be pursued as a policy.
They could "create more employment opportunities by focusing on niche markets such as honey, spices and the production of flavours and fragrances. Emphasis should also be placed on the use of local plants to make teas, beverages and pharmaceutical products, as well as beauty products such as lotion and body wash," the report said.