Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Friday, December 28, 2007

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.,




At 12/28/2007 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Higher education is not necessarily for looking a job. Jamaicans should give more thought to how they can use higher education studies to create employment for themselves. Many self made Jamaicans have very little in terms of qualification and if they can create a space for themselves, we with higher education should be able to do much better.

At 12/28/2007 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Jamaica lost a great deal of it's business class during the 1970's. Jamaica needs individuals who can come in and start business. One suggestion to this young lady would have been to get experience in the USA and come back with some expertise and some plan to start a business that uses her food science skills.

At 12/29/2007 8:01 AM, Blogger fwade said...

Interesting -- I had the same thought.

But here is the problem -- if she stays to get some experience in the U.S. she might very well end up staying! It is easier to stay put in America, than it is to return to Jamaica.

Is there a best of both worlds?

At 12/30/2007 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I'm a jamaican who decided not to come back. The subject of the article is very brave to return to jamaica--she probably has US student loans to pay back, and we all know that jamaican money these days "ah play-play" money. It's sad that such bravery and conviction is not rewarded with a job.

At 1/02/2008 12:21 PM, Blogger Nicholas Mayne said...

A couple of big picture problems that cause this:

1. Business/money in Jamaica is controlled by a very few (families). Being that Jamaica is so small, it is almost like a monopoly effect. As a result of the monopoly status, you find that customer service in JA is horrible (ex. Air Jamaica, the local bank) and money is not really that fluid (changing hands frequently, which creates opportunities for new businesses etc).

2. Even if there is room for improvement, the monopoly organizations will not improve because it is not necessary, and they can get the same amount of money while providing less.

3. Therefore, it is not a game of education or expertise per se, but whether you have the connections. That's all. It's a common phenomenon that affects every third world country.

At 1/03/2008 5:38 AM, Blogger fwade said...

Good points.

On another note, I happen to be finishing up an e-book on Caribbean Networking -- in other words, getting more people into the network of "who you know."

At 1/03/2008 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think she should relocate to Barbados (yes I am biased :-) )for good reason.

FWade, I would be interested in reading your e-book when it comes out

At 1/04/2008 6:00 AM, Blogger fwade said...

For the ebook -- stay tuned to this blog. I am expecting to launch it at the end of January or so. The final layout is being designed.

At 8/29/2008 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Jamaican who has been raised in the UK, it certainly has been interesting coming across this blog as I myself have been giving much thought to moving back to Jamaica for a little while. I am both qualified and have the work experience needed. However, I have decided to find a job before moving back. It will be interesting to see how this goes.

At 8/29/2008 12:18 PM, Blogger fwade said...

Welcome -- take a look at our forums also -


Post a Comment

<< Home