PM welcomes historic unemployment level, but again cites labour issues | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) showing that the unemployment rate has fallen to a historic low of 6.2 per cent, is proof that the economy is recovering much faster than was expected from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holness was speaking at Friday’s annual installation of the Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica at Jamaica House in St Andrew.

In welcoming the lowest level of unemployment in the country’s history, Holness said the nation is now poised for continued economic growth.

“We’re now at a point where all the signs are showing that we are about to take off in our economy,” he declared.

“Our economy is recovering. It has recovered rapidly, (or) faster than we had expected,” he indicated.

According to him, the current unemployment rate suggests that “there are still a great deal of persons who would be unemployed, possibly between 75,000 and 80,000 Jamaicans.

“But we can’t, as the Government, just sit by and say, ‘This is so great’, because you have to be considering what happens when you get to three per cent unemployment,” he stated.

“Would we have enough labour to keep the industries going? We have to be thinking about these things.”

The prime minister said the Government has recognised that there is a need to step up its training of young persons locally, as the country continues to attract foreign investors who wish to establish businesses, such as hotels, on the island.

The need to train more young persons has become even more urgent, as, according to Holness, approximately 25,000 persons, most of whom are trained, leave the island yearly.

“… And could Jamaica ever reach a point in its development where businesses want to come here to relocate… to do business here with our birth rate basically at replacement, meaning that the population is not growing fast, (and) with net migration,… where will we find the labour?” he quizzed.

“A very important question for consideration, and this is something our young people should start to think about, because if you were to take, for example, construction, we have approximately eight projects which are large projects, which should come on board.

“We may be able to find most of the skilled labour. We will, (however), have to ramp up our training institutions so that we can plan to meet the demand that is to come,” the prime minister indicated.

He, however, cited that there are challenges to that initiative, as many young persons prefer to sit idly and engage in other activities, rather than seek employment or training.

“We need to get those people into the labour force… We have to provide them with training, but we also have to adjust the attitudes and mind set, because some don’t want to work, and some, you put them to work on the site and is problems – lack of discipline; and some are there to carry out gang activities,” he stated.

To address the issues, Holness said there needs to be a national mobilisation of young people.

“We had started this through the HOPE (Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment) programme.

“Unfortunately, that was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re going to resume that programme and get our young people back into a national service training programme to adjust their attitudes so that they can become trainable and employable,” he indicated.