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Story Highlights

  • The Government is seeking public-private partnership to close the soft skills gap that exists among the nation’s youth.
  • Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says the 2017 National Labour Market survey found that the skills gap was predominant among students leaving high school with no work experience.
  • She is imploring partnership with the Ministry as it seeks to close the gap in a bid to better prepare young people for the world of work and to improve productivity.

The Government is seeking public-private partnership to close the soft skills gap that exists among the nation’s youth.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Shahine Robinson, says the 2017 National Labour Market survey found that the skills gap was predominant among students leaving high school with no work experience.

She is imploring partnership with the Ministry as it seeks to close the gap in a bid to better prepare young people for the world of work and to improve productivity.

“The gap identified is that of soft skills and the lack thereof, with emphasis being placed on customer service and empathy,” she said, while addressing a ‘Labour Department and You’ roadshow, held recently at the Ocho Rios Baptist Church, St. Ann.

“I want to tell you that the soft skills are the personal attributes. Personality traits, inherent social cues and communication skills needed for success on the job. Soft skills include possessing a good attitude, the use of initiative, creative thinking, teamwork, decision-making, good work ethics, networking, positivity, time management, motivation, flexibility, problem solving and conflict resolution,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Robinson said that the Ministry will continue to use its Labour Market Information System (LMIS) to better prepare young workers for the present and future demands of the job market.

“The Ministry’s LMIS website provides information about market data, which includes hot jobs, emerging and obsolete jobs, and seeks to provide information on possible scholarships and job opportunities. I say obsolete because some jobs are, in fact, disappearing as technology improves,” she noted.

In this regard, she underscored the need for Jamaicans to prepare themselves for the emerging marketplace and the emerging jobs.

Mrs. Robinson stressed that the world of work is changing at an alarming rate and “we have to keep abreast of it if we are going to make ourselves marketable and make ourselves investor-friendly as a country too”.

“As we continue [on] the trajectory of reducing youth unemployment, the Ministry will continue to work through our evidence-based programmes, such as the labour market information system… to prepare young workers for the present and future demands of the world of work,” she added.

She said that the Ministry plans to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the HEART Trust/NTA to meet the demands in the job market.

She noted, for example, that “we can’t find enough landscapers, not even for the local demand much less for the overseas demand. So, as jobs emerge and the market changes, we have to make ourselves relevant to that market”.

The roadshow was the second in the series being staged by the Ministry to address issues related to the job market, industrial relations, occupational safety and health, efforts to eliminate child labour, as well as local and overseas employment programmes.

The roadshows, which will travel across the island, are being staged in collaboration with the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU).

The show will stop in Kingston and St. Andrew on November 21 and 22; St. James, January 16 and 17; and St. Thomas, February 27 and 28.