We've got lots to do for the next generation of little black girls and boys

We've got lots to do for the next generation of little black girls and boys

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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Dear Editor,

I am a millennial from rural Jamaica who graduated university some three years ago, and sometimes I wonder if the considerable amount of time I had spent gaining an education, professional experience, and general skills that are suited to become a well-rounded and robust participant in the Jamaican workforce was worth it.

The truth is, like myself, many other millennials and Gen-Z graduates have given up on their dreams and aspirations to become self-sufficient and contributing citizens of Jamaica.

My generation is underemployed, demonised, and have very few avenues to self-actualise. Just as our global generational counterparts in developed and developing societies, we are operating in a vast global capitalist system that no longer can accommodate large workforce and even pay workers liveable wages. The difference with Jamaica, however, is that our economy, and largely our society, does not foster economic development through creativity, innovation, and largely a digitised framework that would help millennials and Gen-Zers create sustainable self-employment opportunities. We are stuck between a rock and very hard and cold place, where we follow the right paths that we are told to follow and end up with massive student debts and working unskilled jobs in sectors like the celebrated call centre enterprises. We can't build a fulfilling life on only exploitive opportunities.

Yes, theoretically starting a business in Jamaica is easy, but millennials like myself have no access to equitable loans to start ventures. We are bogged down by our mounting student loans, and importation duties on technology are massive, leaving us behind in the global economy, where we simply can't keep up with emerging technology and, thus, emerging business opportunities.

We are a generation facing immense pressure, compounded by the ongoing pandemic. We are depressed, we are jobless, underemployed, and devalued by a society which has yet to consider youth development beyond one-day symposiums that have now moved online, ironically.

For a society with a high population of blacks, who are descendants of slaves and the lingering remnants of colonialism, we have a lot of work to do to ensure that the next generation of little black girls and boys are able to flourish.

The Jamaican society must acknowledge its past and contend with our blackness. We must build our cultural confidence and, importantly, create systematic frameworks in education, finance, cultural/creative industries, and ultimately create equitable access throughout our society that will enable my generation to be the masters of their own paths. The time is now.

KR

Frustrated millennial


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