Nurses, teachers look to overseas job offers
THE HEALTH and education sectors could again be hit by an exodus of experienced professionals as nurses and teachers are reportedly being recruited by overseas agencies for jobs in the United States and Canada.
Former president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), Edith Allwood Anderson, confirmed that some nurses have already migrated in recent times and there are indications that many more could be headed to the proverbial greener pastures overseas.
She said there was a significant demand for experienced nurses in Canada and the United States. "We are not aware of how many nurses they need, but we know that they are actively recruiting," Allwood Anderson said of employment agencies that have been in the island recruiting nurses.
According to Allwood Anderson, the nurses being targeted are those with five years or more experience in intensive care.
At the same time, Allwood Anderson said there are more than 400 nurses who have graduated last year that have tried, without success, to obtain employment locally.
Expressing concern about the plight of these young professionals, Allwood Anderson said many of them faced serious financial challenges and could not pay their student loans. She said another 400 nurses are slated to enter the job market this year after completing their studies.
Commenting on issues within the public health sector that are pushing nurses to migrate, the former NAJ president said the Government has significantly cut work sessions for nurses.
"It is very unfortunate what is happening to nurses in Jamaica. It is unfortunate that nurses have spent five years to become qualified as professional nurses and are forced to migrate."
According to Allwood Anderson, the nurses have no other option but to migrate. "Nobody can blame the nurses and say they are unpatriotic, because the nurses at this point in time need bread and butter."
Emphasising the challenges facing nurses in the public health sector, she said a nurse who graduates with a Bachelor of Science degree gets about $900,000 per annum, before tax.
Highlighting basic rental costs of some $20,000 per month, Allwood Anderson said the situation with nurses now is "hand to mouth".
"I am here and I am fortunate to observe what is happening in the service and I am unafraid to speak, I am telling you the truth. I am most displeased."
Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, Dr Mark Nicely, has also indicated that members of the teaching profession are also being recruited for overseas jobs.
Nicely could not provide details, but told The Gleaner that he has received reports of teachers who are setting their sights on job offers abroad.