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WANTED - Survey shows engineers are becoming scarce as demand increases

Published:Wednesday | March 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Howard Mitchell

Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter

A technocrat in the Ministry of Labour has signalled that engineers are becoming an extinct breed in Jamaica, while the demand for those with this qualification continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Speaking at yesterday's Kiwanis Club of Kingston weekly luncheon, Shaine Palmer, director of economic and social research in the labour ministry, said based on labour surveys over the years and preliminary results in a survey being conducted at the ministry, there is an acute need for engineers of all sorts across the country.

He said coming out of the latest Labour Market Study 2012: A Guide to Employment Oppor-tunities in Jamaica, employers have ranked engineers as one of the top fields where they are being hard- pressed to find competent persons to fill vacancies.

"Almost in every study that we do, and preliminary results in a survey that we are doing now, we find that engineering is an area of great concern and great demand for employers," Palmer emphasised.

Palmer's stance concurred with a warning issued by a manufacturer last year, who said that the country might be in for trouble as there were not enough engineers to help build the productive sector.

This manufacturer, Howard Mitchell, executive chairman of Corrpak Jamaica Limited, warned the members of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament last year that the pressing need for engineers should be urgently addressed by the Government.

At the time, Mitchell spoke specifically of mechanical engineers; however, Palmer said the types of engineers needed in Jamaica right now are very varied.

He said based on the studies, different types of engineers such as civil engineers, structural engineers, electrical, and mechanical engineers are but a few of those in demand.

Palmer said that the demand for these technical workers was largely being driven by the pending logistics hub and sectors relating to energy.

In addition, he noted that based on the 2012 survey, most of the shortages were found in the professional groups, with technicians and foreign language speakers ranking high among the areas indicated by employers as vacant.

Palmer said that perhaps it was because of these stated demands for certain professionals in key areas required for economic growth that recommendations had been made by some for the Students' Loan Bureau "to now channel the resources to those areas in which the skills are lacking, and those other persons who are seeking funding who are not (pursuing courses) in demand to fund themselves".

He said coming out of the findings, several occupations were projected to see significant growth based on what the employees indicated as their areas of greatest need.

He added that the survey could be instructive to those considering which career areas they should pursue.

Palmer concluded that there were several persons leaving schools with qualifications that were not matching what was taking place in the labour market.