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Story Highlights

  • the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its Labour Market Information System (LMIS) division, has made it its mission to traverse throughout the island to educate high school students on all they need to know about making wise career choices.
  • The LMIS is the arm of the Ministry that is responsible for providing cost free employment information to employers and jobseekers. It also provides career guidance and training and has three components, the Electronic Labour Exchange, the Skills Bank and the Labour Market Intelligence.
  • In the last two years, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its LMIS division has been successful in obtaining scholarships for two students from the Holy Trinity High School to pursue associate degrees in Information technology and Natural Sciences.

Making a career choice is one of the most important decisions that anyone will make in their lifetime.

However, before that decision can be made there are many factors to consider such as personal interests, earning potential, parental influence, qualifications and labour trends.

This decision can be especially daunting for high school leavers.

That is the main the reason why the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its Labour Market Information System (LMIS) division, has made it its mission to traverse throughout the island to educate high school students on all they need to know about making wise career choices.

Director of Research and Analysis within the Ministry, Simone McKenzie-Mair, tells JIS News that the initiative, which began in 2009, was born out of a need to work with students on their career development, especially those from non-traditional high schools.

“Sometimes they don’t do very well in their subjects and career choices. So we decided to work with them in a more detailed way rather than just having expos,” she says.

The LMIS is the arm of the Ministry that is responsible for providing cost free employment information to employers and jobseekers. It also provides career guidance and training and has three components, the Electronic Labour Exchange, the Skills Bank and the Labour Market Intelligence.

Recently, the LMIS team visited students at the Holy Trinity High School in Kingston where they hosted a “Life after Grade 11 Career Intervention” session. The session Mrs. McKenzie-Mair says was geared at giving individual career counselling to the students.

“We had a personality test, gave them the results and encouraged them to look at other areas of opportunities and to help them with career planning,” she highlights.

“There were also presentations on trends in the labour market, interview techniques, job readiness and retention skills. We also looked at various programmes offered through the Ministry such as our social intervention programmes which include the education entrepreneurship grant programme, the Steps to Work programme and the overseas work programmes,” she adds.

The over 100 students were also exposed to labour laws as well as the importance of contributing to the National Insurance Scheme.

While the day’s activities were crafted for the grade 11 students, students from grades seven and nine also participated in the career development sessions.

“What is happening is that students tend to be focused on the traditional areas of employment such as becoming doctors and lawyers. What we are doing is to get them focused more on other areas of employment that can assist them in making their career choices,” states Mrs. McKenzie-Mair.

The Ministry’s Corporate Planner, Andrea Patterson-Morris, adds that the participation of grade nine students was important because “that is the time they chose their CSEC subjects so we make an intervention at that point to ensure that subject choices match their interests”.

Guidance Counsellor at the institution, Daniel Daley, says the day was an “eye opener for both students and staff” and praised the work of the LMIS.

“The LMIS has taken our grade 11 students out of that box of becoming a lawyer or doctor and to show them the many varied occupations that are currently in demand and for which they may have thought were nominal jobs,” he says.

For two grade eleven students Odeka Haughton and Evaughn McKenzie the LMIS initiative proved to be quite insightful.

Student Council president and aspiring lawyer, Odeka, says “sessions like these are crucial and should be considered in other schools because you want to make sure that students leaving our institutions are prepared for the working world”.

Evaughn, who is the school’s Deputy Head Boy, says “each student should have this experience especially for those who come from the inner-city who are stuck in a certain mindset and don’t expect much of themselves”.

Though still undecided about his career choice, he is confident that when he finally makes that decision it will be the right one.

For students like Evaughn who are uncertain about their career path, Mrs. McKenzie-Mair is suggesting that they select Information Technology as one of their CSEC subjects as there are a number of jobs in the field.

“It is one area other than Mathematics and English that will assist. Adding that, “if you do not have a degree doing, it can assist you in getting a job in freelance data entry, web page design and blogging,” she says.

According to her there are also emerging jobs in the tourism and business processing outsourcing sectors for school leavers.

The Research and Analysis Director is advising students to be aware of current labour trends through the LMIS and the media and to form networks as well as to do a mixture of subjects that can easily allow them to move from one field to the next.

“Our advice is to keep abreast with what is happening through the LMIS as this provides information on emerging occupations, employment opportunities and we will be upgrading the system and we will be able to provide more relevant information. Keep abreast with what is happening through the local media, look out for the career pages and establish networks with persons who can assist you,” Mrs. McKenzie-Mair suggests.

She also stresses the importance of volunteerism as it will provide school leavers with the experience that is required by most employers.

In the last two years, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through its LMIS division has been successful in obtaining scholarships for two students from the Holy Trinity High School to pursue associate degrees in Information technology and Natural Sciences.

The Ministry also provides grants to school leavers through its social intervention programmes.

Meanwhile, students are being encouraged to register with the LMIS so that they can benefit from its services, be updated on the current labour market trends and so become competitive in the job market.

As part of ongoing research Mrs. McKenzie-Mair says that the Ministry will be conducting a tracer study to track the progress and to provide continuing support to students.

 

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