Mon | Dec 11, 2023

Letter of the Day | Young professionals have no choice but to migrate

Published:Tuesday | June 28, 2022 | 12:06 AM


I was told from an early age that education is the key to success; however, this key has proven to be very dysfunctional. The educational system has failed to teach students about wealth creation, and has only prepared us to scrape by from pay cheque to pay cheque. After graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in Jamaica with a high-demand degree, I quickly received a job in the private sector. My hopes of success, or moving above the poverty line, looked dimmer and next to impossible, especially since there was no financial foundation made by my ancestors or family members. I learned quickly that working in Jamaica in the medical profession is modern-day enslavement. The cost of living surpasses the gross pay, and it leaves no money for a meaningful vacation experience or time for leisure.

A graduate in the medical field, excluding medical doctor, receives an average gross pay of $100,000. Rent is, on average, $40,000; plus utility and groceries, depending on one’s lifestyle choices, is approximately $30,000; and transportation about $7,000. These are estimations for Kingstonian workers. For those who are paying back student loans, have no children, or have other responsibilities, the remaining $23,000 would be spend on that.

We haven’t considered those who have moved from rural areas to live in Kingston; they have to purchase furniture and appliances. The budget must also include savings and investments. All of which should come from the remaining $23,000. This is just a basic necessity on a budget; for each person it will vary. This is depressing; however, we haven’t mentioned the working conditions. I have worked in the United States in a factory for three weeks and I made almost twice my pay, this is without a degree.

Working in the medical facilities requires one to be on over 40-hour-a-week shift, standing long hours, it’s a very demanding physical job. For many facilities, working on weekends or working shifts from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. are considered regular work time.

In other words, my schedule for a particular month could be 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Sunday, with any random two days off in the week. Most times no overtime allowances paid and no transportation provided after working late-hour shifts.

Then, there is no job security; a company is quick to replace you. Companies seek ways in which they can operate at the cheapest cost, even at the expense of the health and employment of its workers.

Jamaica does not seem anywhere near reaching its Vision 2030 goal of creating a place where individuals feel comfortable raising a family and doing business. It looks dark and depressing for a young professional. I was fully aware that I had to work, suffer and make sacrifices in my profession to reach my financial goals. However, the gate to such success was already closed, with only a few on the other side. The Jamaican work environment doesn’t even allow for individuals to work more than one job in other to make ends meet.

I have watched may former classmates who have migrated make a name for themselves. They own their own homes, are improving and growing professionally.

I am deeply patriotic; however, I am one of those who must leave to get a better life.