High-demand skills not enough to satisfy labour market
High-demand skills is not enoughMonday, February 20, 2017
BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS Senior staff reporter email@example.com
MANAGER for student services and development, placement and career services at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Dr Merritt Henry, says the number of people graduating from tertiary institutions with high-demand skills is not enough to meet the demands of the local labour market.
"… We are preparing job seekers with skills an competencies that are demanded, but not enough…there is a disconnect between what the employers would want to have and what secondary and tertiary institutions are sending out…but it is not that we are not preparing these persons," Dr Henry told yesterday’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue headquarters in Kingston.
She was among a team of representatives from the Youth Upliftment Through Employment (YUTE) Limited, who spoke on the issue of whether the education system is equipping youth job seekers with the skills demanded by employers.
Dr Henry noted that oftentimes there are requests from organisations for people trained in aspects of accounting, IT, animation and aspects of social media, but some of those requests cannot be filled.
In the meantime, she said there is need for a more structured approach to career management, both at the secondary and tertiary levels. Students, she said, could, for example, be required to participate in a career-planning course which would help administrators to guide them towards careers for which they are best suited.
"If things are done with a certain amount of professionalism (at the secondary level), and the focus is on career development, then at the tertiary level things would be much easier for the students when they reach there," she added.
Barrington Bryce, project coordinator for New Employment Opportunities (NEO) for youth, noted that the initiative is seeking to address some of these shortfalls by retraining the most vulnerable and poorest youth, to place them in jobs.
NEO, which is being administered by the YUTE, is intended to help narrow the gap between skills and the demands of organisations by coordinating and linking the efforts of the main stakeholders in education and training, with the labour market and youth between the ages of 17 and 29.
It is a regional, Inter-American Development Bank-led initiative drawing on the resources of companies through internships and placement opportunities. The aim is to reach one million vulnerable youth in the Caribbean and Latin American region within another five years.
Dr Henry, in the meantime, pointed out that parents need guidance in directing their children towards less-traditional, more in-demand careers. "We need to help our parents to begin to change their mindset that not only must their children become lawyers, doctors, police, nurses — the traditional careers. Some parents are not comfortable unless their children are doing something that is within the traditional professions," she noted.
"It’s very important to educate parents as to the dynamics of the world of work, the changing demands, and that there are careers out there that are emerging, that are current, and that they are just as valuable as the others," she said.