In Jamaica we have a serious youth unemployment problem. Many young persons leave high school with no hope of getting a job, while worse still many leave university with no access to reasonable employment in there chosen field.
With that comes depression, as the youth leave school and are either left behind or herded into menial paying jobs they see no future. With limited job prospects how can we expect them to fuel the economy or get finance for the brilliant prospect they have?
One issue is that the fields the youth generally wish to study do not tend to lead to great employment. As alluded to in the papers the law field is saturated and while everyone loves a poet, Jamaica is not advanced enough to afford many poets meaningful employment.
So what to do? First a push by the education ministry focusing on the STEM subjects, this has begun but more needs to be done in that regard. We can also aid by actually giving our technical high schools priority, doing this would ensure that the children at those schools would be exposed to quality technical training while equipped with modern tools.
To get those who have left school and are unemployed or working in low jobs with degrees the answers lie in the JDF and farming.
The armed forces as persons should know is a microcosm of society. It needs engineers, it needs mechanics, it needs doctors, nurses and the list goes on, almost any job found in civilian life can be found in the armed forces. All persons, once they leave high school or college should be conscripted to the JDF for a minimum of three years.
This is ideal because the person with no qualifications will learn a skill he can use to make a living, while the person with the degree in political science can learn something that will expand there horizons and move them from the jobs that they are currently over qualified for. They will be qualified, experienced and disciplined, a combination that rarely is found.
For farming that is simply a no brainer. With an import bill that far exceeds what we buy locally as it relates to food it would be madness to not invest in farming. Taking the under and unemployed youths, putting them on modern state of the art collective farms and paying them well would lead to greater productive employment, more money in the economy and a massive reduction in our food import bill.
More investment in technical schools, government focus on STEM subjects, conscription and farming, there in lies the answer to our youth unemployment problem. If we act fast we can save this generation if not however, I fear we will never escape this rut.