My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Respect Jamaica and UNICEF Survey suggest Mass Exodus of High School Leavers in 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How Respect Jamaica and UNICEF Survey suggest Mass Exodus of High School Leavers in 2016

Jamaican professionals connected to the Government of Jamaica's Public Sector are leaving the island in a slow trickle. Some 100,000 Jamaicans migrated to the US, Canada and the UK between the year 2010 and 2013.

So it might not surprise you to know that Jamaicans between the ages of 14 and 40 have already made up their minds to leave Jamaica as reported in the article “Anywhere But Afghanistan - 80% Of Jamaican Youngsters Want To Migrate”, published Sunday April 10, 2016, by Erica Virtue, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This was based on the result of a phone interview survey commissioned by Respect Jamaica and the local office of UNICEF. The Survey, which was done between Monday February 29th 2016 and Thursday March 3rd 2016, canvassed the opinions of 3,024 respondents from the Digicel customer base in Jamaica.

The results make for interesting reading:

1.      81% between the ages of 14 and 40 have the intention to leave Jamaica
2.      75% between 14 and 19 years old would leave for better opportunities
3.      83% between the ages of 20 and 25 would also go
4.      81% between 26 and 40 would seek out greener pastures overseas

Those findings were also consistent with a 2014 by the Centre for Leadership and Governance in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies, Mona. They discovered that 49.3% young Jamaicans would give up their citizenship to gain educational and work opportunities in that country as reported in the article “Poll Says Jamaicans Are Eager To Leave Country”, published Wednesday February 11, 2015 by Gary Spaulding, The Jamaica Gleaner.

With a sample error of +/-3%, this can almost be said to be representative of the island of Jamaica as a whole. So is there any other study that can confirm this?

Respect Jamaica and the local office of UNICEF Survey - 14 and 40 packing their bags for Greener pastures

These findings mirror those of a January 2015 Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll as reported in the article “Poll Says Jamaicans Are Eager To Leave Country”, published Wednesday February 11, 2015 by Gary Spaulding, The Jamaica Gleaner.

In that poll of some 1,100 persons conducted between Saturday January 17th to Sunday January 18th 2015, the Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll discovered similar results:

1.      43% said that either they or person/s in their immediate families hoped to migrate to another country within the next five years or so
2.      39% indicated that no one in their families had signalled an interest in migrating
3.      18% indicated that they did now know

When broken down using the age demographic, the results become harrowingly similar across all age ranges as it relates to leaving Jamaica:

1.      44% of youth between the ages of 18 and 24 years indicated that they would fly out of Jamaica
2.      44% between the ages of 25 and 34 would leave
3.      46% between the ages of 35 and 44 would leave

As expected, those 55 and older were basically settled and had no such desire:

1.      33% of persons between 55 and 64 years would leave
2.      22% of Jamaicans 65 and over would leave

So where are they planning to go?

Jamaicans like the US, Canada and UK - The Middle East not yet on their Radar

The main choices for Immigrating Jamaicans were also not surprising:

1.      US
2.      Canada
3.      UK

This is confirmed by Kemario Davis, who falls in the 20-25 age group, quote: “Of course, if I had the chance right now, I would be looking towards Canada and the United States (US). There are better opportunities there, especially for education and em”.

Apparently anywhere except the Middle East is better, even the small islands, despite the Middle East paying far more money, to quote Mr. Davis: “If I see where I can go to some small island where I can get US$5,000 per month, it will be much better than staying here”.

He might want to reconsider that, as Saudi Arabia and UAE (United Arab Emirates) are hiring based on this facebook page New Jobsin Dubai.

University student AndrĂ© Stephens also has his sights set on these countries, quote: “Yes, I would migrate, especially to Canada, because of the opportunities for young professionals. There are opportunities for citizenship [as well as] work-and-study programmes in areas such as social work, which provide for a pension in later life. Here, there is stagnation. The 9-5 job cannot provide enough income, and all it does is ensure that you don't leave your parents' house”.

Not surprising, considering that many UWI students opt to do courses that will not make them employable based on a Graduate Tracer Study released by the UOPD (University Office of Planning and Development) in November 2015 as per my analysis in my blog article entitled “UOPD UWI Graduate Trace Study reveals Bad choices, Entrepreneurship and brain-drain in 2016”. 

Engineering, Medicine and Education, albeit more difficult, guarantee employment in Jamaica. But this is if you can even afford Tertiary education. High School leavers are therefore faced with having to work in a Call Center and still live with their parents.

This is a reality that can be very frustrating especially as the Government gives many jobs to foreigners despite increased FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) as explained my blog article entitled “FDI and Jamaican Work Permits granted to Foreigners – FDI increase when Infrastructure Project start due to Skilled Certified Labour Shortage”. 

So Engineering, Medicine and Education may not be safe after all, as many of these foreigners often do not leave when their work permits expire.

Migration among Professionals rising - Mass exodus of trained professionals and High School leavers in 2016

Still education is also having it own mini crisis as Mathematics and Science Teachers are leaving due to low salaries as argued by Educate Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Educate Jamaica says JA$250,000 monthly for Ministry of Education Mathematics and Science Teachers”.  

Already teachers are leaving to get JA$5 million salaries in England as explained in my blog article entitled “How JA$5 million salaries in Britain means English Teacher Exodus from Ministry of Education”.  And nurses are also leaving as well as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Jamaican Nurses Exodus will increase if no improvement in Health Care Sector”.

So are we witnessing a coming mass exodus of not only trained professionals but also High School leavers in 2016?

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