Grads in limbo
Thousands unemployed up to 1 year after graduation

UP to 40 per cent of 6,000 graduates from The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona remain unemployed after a year of graduation, according to information supplied to the Jamaica Observer by the Career and Placement Unit of the university.

In response to queries from the Business Observer, the institution’s Career and Placement Unit said that its 2020 tracer study showed that more than half of graduates had been hired, and that it has programmes in place such as soft skills enhancement to improve the chances for others.

Placement officials commented, “Our referral service for recent graduates and alumni, in general, is ongoing. We continue to collaborate with our industry partners to meet their recruitment needs. Our team did not observe any significant challenges, except for the decline in on-campus part-time offers.”

It was noted, however, that at the height of the pandemic, with most offices operating virtually, and as the school returned to some degree of face-to-face delivery, “the COVID-19 restrictions would have impacted the number of recruits on campus.”

The unit, in a scripted response, outlined, “Placement & Career Services does not guarantee employment of graduates. Our services facilitate the development of soft skills that complement the technical skills that increase students’ employability while providing networking opportunities for recruitment.

“We continue to create new opportunities for recruitment through additional partnerships with private and public sector organisations. Our ongoing seminars at faculty and department levels provide career guidance to students. Sessions such as understanding self, choosing a major, understanding the labour market information, entrepreneurship tips, preparing cover letters and resumes, mock interviews, and job fairs are offerings our students and alumni enjoy.”

The Placement Unit noted that all alumni have access to a one-year (free) support service for job referrals, adding, “We strive to provide support to our students to be proactive in career planning as the landscape of the world of work changes.”

Approximately 40 per cent of UWI graduates are seeking employment, according to UWI tracer studies.

Most employed

On an annual basis, nearly 6,000 students graduate from The University of the West Indies with undergraduate and graduate degrees.

The Placement Unit said that its annual tracer study, which captures a sample of the graduates, shows for the 2020 results, that 60 per cent of undergraduate students reported employment status.

For 2020, industries and job categories varied to include communication/media, entertainment/shipping/travel/hotel, financial services, education institutions, manufacturing, legal services, engineering, information technology, health services, and service/utility providers.

The Placement Unit noted that UWI students benefit from an alumni referral system.

“For example, from January 2021 to April 2022, over 2,000 job vacancies (part-time and full-time) have passed through our office. Over 400 students have accessed summer employment through the Overseas Work & Travel Programme,” it was added.

Avia Collinder

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