Letters to the Editor

Not all jobs are jobs

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to an article published in the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 'Tertiary students urged to use critical thinking to advance country', which highlighted to me what is exactly wrong with our idea of developing young people.

The beloved governor general of Jamaica highlighted the demands of the workplace, which include creativity from employees, critical and divergent thinking, self-awareness, and integration of knowledge to tackle various challenges. The first question that came to my mind was how are we really empowering young people to meet these demands when the Government stifles opportunities for them to do so.

A few weeks ago, I was engaged in a discussion about the creation of jobs for young people. Automatically, the discussion turned to systems of neocolonial control and how the Jamaican Government has provided employment for young people leaving universities within these systems. Regrettably, the discussion turned to the first form of 'new slavery' — call centres.

We like to speak in a vacuum that jobs are jobs and how we are creating jobs within the business process outsourcing industry to reduce youth unemployment, empower young people, generate income from these industries. We believe that 'jobs are jobs' and that young people should 'satisfy and save'. The truth is, they are not.

Quality jobs empower your people and build an economy. Sweatshop jobs aren't jobs. Call centres are just like sweatshops in the sense that they exploit the vulnerable — young high school or university graduates seeking the ideal to pay for living expenses, buy food, repay debt from loans, and a whole host of other issues that face students and new graduates.

Critical thinking can only be encouraged when we have systems and institutions that actively promote innovation and don't stifle creativity and the various skill sets of persons.

One youngster highlighted, “We have mastered the art of speaking as a country, but we suffer from a severe implementation deficit.” It should be of no surprise therefore that we have recorded the second-highest migration rate among youth up to age 29 years in the Caribbean region. A study conducted by the World Bank supports this.

Added to that, the Government cripples the development of Jamaican youth through a lack of opportunities and exposure. Of course, the youth have to rethink how they tackle obtaining opportunities. We need to start looking beyond the traditional way of getting by and start looking for opportunities in uncharted territories.

Mikhail C Williams





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