Bob Marley sang that in an abundance of water, the fool is thirsty, but what if the “fool” does not know where to find the water? That is the employment pool in Jamaica: it is said that there are many job opportunities, however, seekers neither know where to find them nor are they aware of the options available. The highest level of unemployment is concentrated in the age group of 20-24 (The Statistical Institute of Jamaica in Jamaican Medium, 2018). Considering these statistics, the Career Compass Campaign was created in an effort to explore the career opportunities available to those who fall within this range and educate high school students and young adults about alternative career paths, how to expand their network, and market themselves for these jobs, for example using job sites.
For Career Coach, Business Analyst, and Product Owner, Kareen Wilson, having experienced career uncertainty for most of her life, she opted to do subjects areas she liked and was good at which many high school students can relate to or take heed to when deciding what subjects to pursue. She admitted, “not being as strategic as I should have been in my formidable years of schooling which lead to me having jobs instead of a career.” Pursuing an MBA was what she considered to be, “the best thing for my career.” Not many students make business their area of study in high school, but instead a subject they study to fill one of eight slots. She explained that she found the job she now has from having alternative sources, which she mentioned was a key factor in finding job opportunities as a high school student or job seeker. She accredited finding popular job sites like LinkedIn and Caribbean Jobs, as well as newspaper ads for those who choose to pursue traditional jobs.
Kareen, when asked to provide reasons for the lack of individuals in non-traditional jobs, mentioned that it could be due to, “a lack of education and entrepreneurship, risk aversion and a warped sense to how things work- the ‘get rich quick mentality.” However, she says the youth could curb this issue by being entrepreneurial and not allowing themselves to be bound by tradition. Though she did not seek academic advice, her advice to youths seeking employment is that “there are lots of opportunities: some harder to see than others.” Additionally, she implores the youths to, “never turn away a learning opportunity, think long-term, be prepared to make sacrifices and take advantage of situations.”
“The career ladder begins before high school,” Wilson says, to which I agree to some extent. Primary/preparatory schools practice a “career day” culture whereby children dress up as nurses, soldiers, and pilots…among other traditional professions, reinforcing that this is what is expected. “It is important to expose children to a wide array of subject areas; students should know it is perfectly okay to switch career trajectories throughout life,” she adds. This alludes to the parent-child relationship, where parents should create an environment for their child to comfortably make this switch. Wilson concludes, “as you live and grow, you also learn, and you may become aware of more appealing career options in life-don’t be afraid to pursue them.”