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No jobs for graduates in Jamaica

KINGSTON — Nearly half of the more than 40,000 young people who graduate high schools and universities this year may not find employment in the private sector, two stakeholder groups have predicted.

The forecast by the Jamaica Employers’ Federation and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica comes as the economy continues its decline for a sixth consecutive quarter.

“Most employers are either not hiring or not replacing people who are leaving,” JEF President David Wan puts it simply.

“So I don’t expect any massive increase in employment by the private sector this year,” he added.

Wan underscored that a number of initiatives are being undertaken, but cautioned that they are not going to have an immediate impact.

One of those initiatives, he said, is the proposed amendment to the Apprenticeship Act that seeks to expand the number of occupations that can go on the apprenticeship programme.

“That will be some help, but a lot more needs to be done,” the JEF president noted.

Another factor that can change the employment outlook, according to executive director of the PSOJ, Dennis Chung, is the country’s performance in the next IMF test.

Chung said yesterday that passing the next IMF test will improve confidence and argued that this could embolden employers to start hiring while encouraging some persons to start their own businesses.

“I think that companies will start to grow, and as the confidence returns and we pass the next IMF test, I think we will start seeing some robustness coming back to the economy,” he reasoned.

The gloomy outlook comes weeks after the Statistical Institute of Jamaica reported that the country’s unemployment rate rose to 16.3 per cent in April this year, a two percentage-point climb when compared to the corresponding period last year.

STATIN’s figures also showed that unemployment among young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years old rose to 38.5 per cent in April this year, a 4.1 percentage-point increase from last April.

The Ministry of Education’s library revealed yesterday that its latest data are for 2007, but Wan said last year approximately 38,000 students sought employment as new entrants to the job market.

He said this is in contrast with the approximately 30,000 new jobs he claimed were created island wide last year.

“This year I expect it to be below that in terms of jobs created, except if the logistics hub can come into play quickly and give us some more jobs,” he reasoned. (Gleaner)

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