Army of skilled labour needed, says Samuda
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda addressing the Area Council One Youth Conference of Young Jamaica at the Jamaica Labour Party headquarters on Belmont Road in St Andrew on Saturday. (Photos: Joseph Wellington)

GOVERNMENT Senator Matthew Samuda on Saturday pointed to the need for skilled labour in the country and urged young Jamaicans to ensure they are qualified to take up jobs that require those competences.

Samuda, who is also a minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, said the notion that success and financial stability can only be attained through traditional jobs should be retired.

"I remember when I was in high school you didn't get pushed towards doing trade activities. Now, every single developer in this country is crying out for skilled labour. Every single government agency that does infrastructure projects will tell you that whether they undertake it themselves or if they get the work procured, that they are crying out for skilled labour," Samuda told the Area Council One Youth Conference of Young Jamaica, a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) affiliate, at the ruling party's headquarters on Belmont Road in St Andrew.

Samuda said he was caught off guard on a recent tour in St James when he learned how much skilled labourers were being paid for their services.

"The skilled labour, in many cases, is being paid higher than the desk jobs that we were told we were to 'run down'. So, one of the jobs of Young Jamaica and the jobs of the people in this room is going to be to get that information of what's available through the HOPE [Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment] programme, what's available through HEART, and how you access it," he said.

He urged the young Labourites to not only focus on political work, saying that the group "needs to sell the message of what the Government is trying to accomplish, because for us to achieve that prosperity we will need your help to get young people to not just look at the simple, typical courses that were sold to us 10, 15, 30 years ago, but to accept that they can make their way, they can achieve prosperity, and they can make a life for their families with skills".

"The country has grown massively. We see it. You visibly see it. The infrastructure is being transformed and the number of jobs are everywhere to see, but for that to continue we will need to recruit an army of skilled labour. And I can tell you, with where the economy is going they won't be paid base rates because their labour is in demand," Samuda said, adding that people genuinely don't know the value that they can get from their labour in areas such as plumbing, carpentry, and tiling.

Young Jamaica President Rohan Walsh echoed Samuda's comments as he urged youngsters to get certified.

Walsh reasoned that if traditional education proves to be costly, youngsters can turn to trades and learn skills that can be remunerative.

"When somebody says it costs a lot I say, 'Well, do a certificate,' " he said to thunderous applause from the audience.

"If the degree costs a lot, go and do a certificate. If the master's costs a lot, go and do a certificate. Certify yourself. Maybe it is a case where you are not academically inclined — you are not going to be the lawyer, the doctor, the teacher or the nurse — but you could be that tradesman, you could be that craftsman. It is very important that we look at education," he said.

Young Jamaica President Rohan Walsh (right) in discussion with his Vice-President Wade Brown at the group's Area Council One Youth Conference on Saturday at Jamaica Labour Party headquarters in St Andrew.
Romardo Lyons

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