Tue | Nov 30, 2021

Orane wants students to be prepared for the jobs of the future

Published:Monday | October 18, 2021 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Douglas Orane
Douglas Orane


Douglas Orane, retired chairman and chief executive officer of GraceKennedy Limited, says young people need adequate preparation to function in the current global job environment, which is constantly advancing, lest they run the risk of being left behind and unable to fit in.

Orane expressed the view on Wednesday while giving the keynote address at the launch of National Alumni Day via the Zoom platform. The event, which was attended by representatives of the Jamaica Alumni Association of High Schools, comes in the wake of a recent proclamation by Jamaica’s Governor General Sir Patrick Allen that the second Wednesday in October of each year should be celebrated as National Alumni Day.

“The digitalisation of our society and how we apply it have increased exponentially, and the COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically accelerating the rate of change,” said Orane. “We need to help our young people to prepare for a world where it is predicted that in 10 years’ time, many of the jobs in different industries will not exist in their present form.

“Newly developed fields of endeavours are being created as we speak, such as data analytics, coding, genome sequencing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The risk that we face is that we may act too slowly, and then our next generation of Jamaicans will be left behind, failing to fit in a world that is being created with new skill sets, for which they have not been prepared,” added Orane.

The former GraceKennedy chairman’s admonition is similar to a warning given by business management consultant Leachim Semaj in 2018, when he argued that schools must do more to educate students on the jobs they need to prepare for.

“Students leaving high schools are not being given proper guidance. Many of the people who should be guiding them – the guidance counsellors and so on – don’t have a clue, and that’s why you hear people talking about work as it used to be, [but] half of the jobs that we are comfortable with now will not be here 10 years from now,” Semaj said at the time.

However, in speaking to what needs to be done today, Orane said that one way to help prepare young people for the changing job market is for school alumni associations to create a closer bond with the schools they represent.

“How we address this matter together is through effective organisation, building our emotional ties with each other’s alumni, bonding more closely to the educational institutions which we support, and most importantly, committing ourselves to the well-being of the children and educators in those institutions,” said Orane.

Effective fundraising

“Going forward, it is the task of our adult generation to do effective fundraising, mentoring, counselling, career guidance, social support, and all else that is needed to make our educational institutions truly successful,” added Orane.

Meanwhile, Mitzi Harris-Dillon, the interim president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, told the meeting that the schools with the strongest performance levels usually have active alumni associations.

“We as parents are being encouraged to ensure that we explain to our children the importance of their alumni associations and the benefits of giving back to our alma maters. If you take a look around, you will note that the strongest performing schools usually reflect active, functioning PTAs and alumni associations, and that is why each association has a representative that sits on the school board, in keeping with our Education Act,” said Harris-Dillon.