Why Educated Jamaicans Remain Abroad
It caught my attention: a letter to the editor from a young returnee expressing her disappointment at not being able to find a job after five months here at home.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
Why educated Jamaicans remain overseas
published: Sunday | December 23, 2007
After almost five months of rigorous job hunting and with a genuine desire to become one of the future leaders of Jamaica, I decided to share a letter that I have written, with my fellow Jamaicans here and abroad, in an effort to encourage them to voice their concerns to the Government pertaining to the issue of highly qualified Jamaicans being unable to get a job after returning home. I don't think it is being recognised as a growing epidemic. The letter is as follows:
My fellow Jamaicans, how can Jamaica move from being a developing to a developed country when Jamaicans who decide to return home after successfully completing their master's and doctorate degrees are not offered employment?
I am a 27-year-old female who returned home in August 2007 after graduating from one of the highly recognised universities in the United States with a master's degree in food science. It has been almost five months and I have not been able to get a job. I find this very disheartening and frustrating as I believe that the area of study that I have chosen would be very beneficial to Jamaica as it is a rapidly growing field that is in high demand worldwide.
During my study of food science, I did a variety of courses which included food chemistry, food analysis, nutritional sciences, food microbiology, post-harvest technology of fruits and vegetables, food processing and packaging, aseptic processing technology, food ingredient technology, food biotechnology and better process control, which is actually FDA certified.
I was so excited in returning home to Jamaica as I have a genuine interest in the development of my country.
After graduation, I was confident that with my training I would be able to assist in the production of safe and nutritious food items for my fellow Jamaicans, and also to assist the local food companies to become more competitive in the international market.
I strongly believe that Jamaica's food products and resources are not being marketed effectively because there is not adequate attention being directed towards ensuring their presence, safety and nutritional value. Therefore, I chose the field of food science with the intention of helping to break those barriers so that Jamaica's food products and resources could be internationally recognised and desired.
Lack of jobs
During my studies overseas, I also encouraged my fellow Jamaicans, who were in various graduate fields all over the United States, to return home after completing their studies, as their skills would be very beneficial to Jamaica's development. This was done in an effort to help secure Jamaica's future, as I am very passionate about my country and its success, and I am hoping to become intimately involved in the future of Jamaica. They, however, expressed that they had no desire to return home with the escalation of crime and violence and economic turmoil. They also strongly believe that with their educational background, Jamaica would not be able to offer them suitable jobs and compensation.
So, when are we going to do something about this increasing epidemic of our educated Jamaican people who have no desire to return home because of this lack of jobs and compensation? When are statements such as, "You are overqualified for the position", going to be obsolete? Are we forever to remain in the shadows of developed countries and continuously lose our educated and skilled people to them?
I have very high hopes and dreams for Jamaica, but how can I be of assistance if I am not given the opportunity to do so? How can I effectively convince my fellow educated and qualified Jamaicans to return home and help to develop our home if I cannot even get job interviews? I have applied to over 30 food and beverage companies in Jamaica as well as government agencies, and I have only received two job interviews, neither of which resulted in employment offers.
Code red alert
But with the several résumés that I delivered, I was completely positive that with my field I should be able to get a job and start my career. I know that if I had remained in the United States, I would have had a job upon graduation as did my fellow classmates. Companies and government agencies conducted recruitment campaigns at the university that I attended, as well as other select universities, in an effort to find suitable candidates. I was not apprehensive about returning home as I was confident that my field would be highly desired and utilised effectively.
Being home and still unemployed after almost five months of rigorous job hunting and with a genuine desire to become one of the future leaders of Jamaica, I decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Bruce Golding, explaining my concern, thereby hoping that the Government would decide to put this grave concern into code red alert.
We encourage our people to further their educational career, but what is Jamaica prepared to offer the relatively few that actually decide to do so? I sincerely believe that without our educated population contributing to our country, we cannot move towards being a developed country. I also decided to share this letter with my fellow Jamaicans, here and abroad, in an effort to encourage you all to voice your concerns to the Government pertaining to this issue as I don't think it is being recognised as a growing epidemic.
I am, etc.,