Ministry to Engage Stakeholders at Labour Market Forum in December

Photo: JIS Photographer A team from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (from left) Public Relations Manager, Michka McCreath; Director, Planning, Research and Monitoring Unit, Andrea Patterson-Morris; and Director, Research and Analysis, Simone Mckenzie-Mair, in a recent interview at the Ministry’s North Street office.

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is looking to engage employers, policymakers, curriculum developers and students at next month’s Labour Market Forum, on key recommendations out of the recently completed labour market study.
  • In an interview with JIS News, Director of the Planning, Research and Monitoring Unit, Andrea Patterson-Morris, said the forum aims to facilitate a conversation among stakeholders about the existing skills gap, and establish solutions.
  • Director, Research and Analysis, Simone McKenzie-Mair, said the study showed that employers report that jobseekers are largely ill-equipped for the workforce, by not having the requisite soft skills, having poor customer service skills, not being punctual and lacking in brand/company loyalty, all of which impact productivity.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is looking to engage employers, policymakers, curriculum developers and students at next month’s Labour Market Forum, on key recommendations out of the recently completed labour market study.

The Labour Market Forum will be held on December 13 at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel under the theme ‘Jamaican Employers and Educators, Working Together to Close the Skills Gap’.

In an interview with JIS News, Director of the Planning, Research and Monitoring Unit, Andrea Patterson-Morris, said the forum aims to facilitate a conversation among stakeholders about the existing skills gap, and establish solutions.

“We are hoping that at the end of it, employers will be more informed [and] also that the curriculum developers will be guided by what came out of the study, and jobseekers will be guided in making more informed career choices,” she said.

Ms. Patterson-Morris said the forum will also be used to encourage more employers to participate in labour market studies, in order to more accurately ascertain the needs of the job sector.

The National Labour Market Study was commissioned last year and tabled in Parliament by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Shahine Robinson, in March this year.

Director, Research and Analysis, Simone McKenzie-Mair, said the study showed that employers report that jobseekers are largely ill-equipped for the workforce, by not having the requisite soft skills, having poor customer service skills, not being punctual and lacking in brand/company loyalty, all of which impact productivity.

She said lack of relevant work experience was also a concern among employers.

Ms. McKenzie-Mair said these issues will be addressed during the forum through a series of panel discussions. There will also be an international speaker, who will look at best practices in other jurisdictions and how these can be applied locally.

She added that the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation will be a part of the forum, to speak to projections for growth in specific job sectors.

“We found in the study that although 60 per cent of employers said they expected to have some type of business upgrade or expansion, which would lead to jobs, they weren’t able to tell us where the jobs are. Given that, we saw the need to invite that Ministry to speak to where the jobs are, what the growth areas are and what is on the horizon,” Ms. McKenzie-Mair said.

The forum will also include an awards ceremony to recognise the employers who have been participating in the Labour Market Information System (LMIS) of the Labour Ministry; as well as to award colleges that have partnered with the Ministry for its scholarship programme, under the LMIS School Initiative.

The forum, being funded by the Inter-American Development Fund (IDB), will be streamed live, and the public, particularly students, are being urged to participate. Persons are also invited to register for attendance online.

Ms. McKenzie-Mair said she is hopeful that the forum will lead to a more collaborative approach to addressing the needs of the labour market. She said it will also provide a “wealth of information” for the Ministry, to be used in published material and to inform the next labour market study.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; the Jamaica Employers’ Federation and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions are expected to participate in the event.

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