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Published:Monday | November 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM
In this 2005 photo, hundreds of farm work applicants gather at the St Paul's United Church in Montego Bay, St James, hoping to be selected for the programme. - File photos
Job seekers respond to a newspaper advertisement by the Jamaica Fire Brigade. Unemployment among youth is a major problem.
With no jobs available for these women in St Mary, a game of bingo is what they use to occupy their time on any given day. - photo by Ramesh Newell

Jamaica continues to celebrate 50 years of Independence. We have achieved a lot. However, there is much work left to be done if weare to progress as a country. We must begin to tackle Jamaica's chronic problems in a targeted and sustained way to make this country a better place to live, work and grow families. The Next 50 Years, a special Gleaner series, will spotlight some of the challenges we must fix in the coming years. We want to hear from you. Email us at and join the debate.

AS JAMAICA crept into Independence, poverty and unemployment stood like sentinels, keeping the largely African-originated population in place.

At 13 per cent in 1962, unemployment was not at a catastrophic level, given the context of dependence and historical exploitation, but the situation failed to improve in succeeding years.

As Jamaica celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence, unemployment rate stands at 12.8 per cent. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix as this is singularly the largest social and economic problem we face.

Unemployment strategies have to be predicated on an overall approach to expand the macro-economic framework. Therefore, Government must prioritise sectors and industries for growth and initiate policies accordingly.

With additional technology to extract flavours and make value-added agricultural produce, Government must give incentives to export-oriented agro-industries, as the country moves forward in the next 50 years.

Agriculture production is vital because of the need for food security. Markets must be explored for non-traditional agricultural exports.

A business model of sports must be incorporated. Sport tourism must also be explored.

Manufacturing sport apparel with the exclusive 'Jamaica brand' removes the issue of competition with cheap imports from Asia, because superior or prestige goods do not obey the same laws of supply and demand.

Given the strong work ethic of migrant Jamaican workers, the surplus can be absorbed by training professionals and skilled personnel who are in demand internationally. A system of bonding and remittance implications needs to be explored.

Trade unions, employers and Government must coalesce, and other interest groups and social partners need to force policymakers to be more honest.