The Main Problems In Jamaica Sociology Essay

3076 words (12 pages) Essay in Sociology

5/12/16 Sociology Reference this

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According to research, unemployment is one of the main problems in Jamaica. In the Don Anderson poll done in May 2008 which was published in the Jamaica Observer September 21, 2010 it was shown as the major problem to the Jamaica’s economic crisis among respondents. This research intends to discover the effects of unemployment and the factors contributing to the increase in the unemployment rate. Unemployment creates social and political tensions which do not help society to build prosperity and established a stable political regime. Unemployment is also caused by religious, political and educational reasons. Rastafarians for examples have a hard time getting a job, the winning political party does not give jobs to voters or supporters of the opposing party and a lack of education is responsible for many people being unemployed as most jobs require at least a high school diploma. The Daily Gleaner dated; September 07, 2008, shows that unemployment is caused by laziness and lack of education, because jobs are always being advertised in the Daily Gleaner and most times no one turns up for the position. This research paper will explore the many causes of unemployment, a realization of the seriousness of the problem in the country and suggestions as to what can be done to alleviate this problem.

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Unemployment is defined as the state of an individual looking for a paying job but not able to find one. There are many types of unemployment-seasonal, cyclical, casual, technological, structural and residual. Seasonal unemployment in this people is employed only when the season for certain types of economic activities comes around. For instance in Jamaica the reaping of sugar cane or coffee and the tourist season brings high level of employment. When the season as passed the temporary workers revert to their state of unemployment. Casual unemployment takes into account those who work on an on and off basis. These workers will include contract workers, labourers and unskilled persons. With changes in the economy “boom and slump” job security or instability may result. When an economy is passing through recession the unemployment rate is very high. With the advent of modern technology, a number of firms have adopted the concepts and the processes that give rise to efficiency of operation. A lot of persons have lost their job with the addition of technology to the food processing industry, security services and among clerical staff in Jamaica in recent years. When the market reveals that a demand for a particular product has decreased structural unemployment will result. For example with the reduce demand on the world market for sugarcane, banana and bauxite several companies have cease operations.

According to Don Anderson poll in May 2008, when his field team asked persons what worried them most about Jamaica today, 27 per cent cited unemployment, lack of job opportunities or joblessness as the principal issues. Women and older persons, he said, were the ones who echoed this concern most of all, but it was a factor expressed by all groups.”Eighteen per cent mention the current economic crisis and the effect it is having on their lives; eight per cent speak of poverty, not unrelated to the other two main factors, whilst four per cent say equally corruption, the moral breakdown in society, and the low literacy level are issues of concern to them,” said Anderson.

Below is a pie chart illustrating the information from the Don Anderson poll.

The factors which contribute to the major unemployment in the country are:

Rapid changes in technology


Not being qualified for the job

Lack of resources/ unavailability of jobs


Lack of capital


Attitudes towards employees

Willingness to work and performing inefficiently

Discriminating factors in the work force

Perception of employees

Job dissatisfaction

Changes in trade pattern

In an article published on The Gleaners website on May 18, 2012 showed that the unemployment rate spiked in January, according to new jobs data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).The findings of the January 2012 Labour Force Survey released in May put the unemployment rate at 14.1 per cent, compared to 12.9 per cent one year ago. Some 23,100 jobs were lost last year, according to the current survey, but not everyone left the labour market .As the full impact of the closure of the larger part of the bauxite industry is now being felt and the tourist industry slows down, we can expect that this quarter and the next will show steeper declines in production. The fall in remittances, which is already depressing demand for goods and services, will also serve to worsen the downturn in output in several sectors. For most people, what matters most about the deterioration in the economy is its effect on the availability of jobs. Young people, in particular, who have borne the brunt of the country’s weak performance in job creation over the past 30 years, are likely to be disproportionately affected. This is in the context where the youth ( 14-24 years ) unemployment rate in 2008 of 25.9 per cent was more than twice the overall rate of 10.6 per cent, with the rate for young females being worse, at three times.

In an article published on The Gleaners website on Thursday September 6, 2012 Wayne Chen, president of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation, said there is an increasing concern regarding the high level of unemployment among youth.

“There is no doubt that the youth unemployment rate in Jamaica is very high,” said Chen.

“We will always be concerned with unemployment, but we are particularly concerned with youth unemployment because it tends to create a sense of hopelessness among new entrants in the economy.”

Chen said he was aware that this problem was a by-product of the overall economic malaise, but said there were some structural weaknesses, particularly in the areas of training and education.

“There are too many school leavers ill-equipped to look about their economic sustenance,” he noted.

“There is also a structural issue of the misalignment of our educational system with the demands of the job market. I have no doubt about the fact that the formal educational system at all levels is failing to properly equip our young people for the demands of a globally competitive workforce.”

Chen urged young persons who are finding a challenge in getting jobs in the formal job market to band together, share their skills, knowledge and expertise, and form their own enterprises and access funds from the many agencies out there.

“I also urge the agencies that are charged with helping small businesses to help more young people turn ideas and energies into bankable business plans,” he stated.

“Young person’s just need to start doing something, get creative and think outside the box rather than sit around waiting for something to happen.”

He added: “They must study the market, see what other opportunities there are and branch into areas you never thought about before. Young people have to now start developing that entrepreneurial skill to create enterprises of their own.”

In a letter to the editor of the Gleaner the dated August 3, 2012 a 20-year-old grapples with one of the most severe problems that Jamaica is facing right now – UNEMPLOYMENT. This is a major contributor to crime and the poor economy. As I see it, the problems faced in our world seem to be links in a great chain. However, in my estimation, unemployment seems to be the greatest of all. He wrote that “Unemployment is something that needs to be revisited by our nation’s leaders because it is a sore that is being allowed to spread all over our island. This view is shared by many other young Jamaicans who have a positive mindset but have found themselves in the same situation I have found myself in. How are we going to be able to further educate ourselves if we are not being afforded the opportunity to work and save towards it? The reality is that not all of us will be able to access student loan or will be able to depend on our parents or family members to support us through tertiary education.” Karl Samuda, general secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party believes that “unemployment is the most difficult problem facing the majority of our people especially in the inner-city areas and in particular the youth”. He said that not being able to care for one’s children and putting a shelter over their heads is dehumanising and debilitating for those affected. Mr. Samuda says that the opportunity to provide jobs lies at the basis of the country’s development.

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Former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Barry Chavannes, explained that unemployment is a serious problem “especially because of its chronic nature. In the last two decades there have been not enough jobs to absorb people coming into the labour market. What is worrisome is that it (unemployment) creates a level of indiscipline when it (unemployment) is severe.” While unemployment does not creates crime, its believed that it creates a kind of climate that crime can thrive in. Noel Cowell, lecturer in the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, agree that unemployment is a major problem. However, he said “We should not only be concerned about those who are recorded as unemployed but those who are underemployed.” He argued that unemployment represents a problem of ‘worthlessness’. He believes that unemployment breeds a number of problems. As a result, he reckons that fathers are failing to maintain their children because they cannot stand up to their economic responsibilities. “The fact that there are so many people out of work, we are losing productive capacity,” Dr. Cowell noted.

Rising unemployment may lead to a reduction in the supply capacity of the economy. If workers remain unemployed for sustained periods they may lose their skills, thus reducing their human capital. High rates of long-term unemployment in the economy may mean there is a mismatch between those skills that workers possess, and those for which there is demand. Its believed that unemployment in your 20s has a huge effect on living standards for people in their 50s. This includes: increased health risks, Stress or having a healthy or unhealthy diet, and increased risk of marital break-up. The longer the duration of unemployment; the lower the chances of finding fresh employment. Also losing income involuntary has a major impact. Many people have major commitments such as mortgage and credit agreements that fall in real living standards. Other things being equal, the greater the amount of goods and services produced, the greater the labor required for production. Because economic growth and employment go hand in hand, regulation and taxation that discourage the operation of business will also reduce the demand for labor. Many entrepreneurs are faced with regulations that force allocation of resources away from production. Regulations sometimes overlooked in their impact on unemployment are those dealing with occupational licensing. Unemployment also increases relative poverty in the Jamaican society the burden on the welfare systems rises thus higher taxation may result.


The obvious solution to the problems of unemployment is to create more jobs. Whilst the majority of the opportunities to create jobs lies in the private sector the governments also plays a important role. The government can create more jobs by directly employing person to deliver services. The jobs should be created on a permanent basis on not temporarily as the failed 1st stage of the Jamaica Emergency employment Programme [JEEP]. Before the implementation of the JEEP programme many Jamaican’s expected to get gainful employment but these dreams were shattered when only a small cross section of Jamaicans received temporary employment. The unemployment situation cannot be a quick fix as it’s the singular largest social and economic problems we face. It requires the input of all stakeholders.

The solution has to take a multipronged approach and it requires discipline by the entire society. In dealing with the problem of youth unemployment, we deal with the problem of crimes and gangs because the recruits in these gangs and crime syndicates are the large number of idle youths. Prevention of teenage pregnancy can also decrease the unemployment level. Therefore family planning, sex education and positive values and attitude should be taught in schools. Education of our children should not begin at schools but at home. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says it is critical for the Government and private sector to work together on finding creative solutions to the problem of unemployment among qualified youth

To solve the problem of unemployment we need to provide a society and a macroeconomic framework that will encourage people to invest in the country. Only through investment and the creation of new businesses will we find it necessary to provide jobs for the vast numbers of persons who are now unemployed. Leachim Semaj, chief executive officer of the Job Bank agrees that unemployment is a serious phenomenon. He explained to The Sunday Gleaner that once persons are unemployed they become involved in many different activities including criminal ones. As the HEART Trust NTA’s slogan says: ‘Education makes you trainable but training makes you employable’. The solution must be within the context of education and training.

A growing number of Jamaicans view higher production, more factories and investments as key elements which the country must use to overcome its economic woes and growing unemployment, according to the latest Gleaner-commissioned poll. The poll, carried out between September 15 and 24, showed that 61 per cent of participants saw hope for salvation through the opening of more factories. Conducted by Don Anderson and his team from Market Research Services Ltd., researchers interviewed 1,000 people aged 18 and over in all parishes. Mr. Anderson, in his analysis, pointed out that “the poor state of the economy has resulted in growing unemployment as a greater number of firms are opting to lay off workers to improve efficiency or guarantee survival. Unemployment has been blamed for a number of national shortcomings, including high crime and violence levels.”

Previously people who lost jobs turned to informal commercial trading of imported goods as a lifeline, but as the economy deteriorates, this outlet will be under pressure. Surely, this crisis requires that we find more sustainable solutions.

As Jamaica celebrates its 50th anniversary of Independence, unemployment rate stands at 12.8 per cent. Unemployment strategies have to be predicated on an overall approach to expand the macro-economic framework. Therefore, Government must prioritize sectors and industries for growth and initiate policies accordingly. With additional technology to extract flavors and make value-added agricultural produce, Government must give incentives to export-oriented agro-industries, as the country moves forward in the next 50 years. Agriculture production is vital because of the need for food security. Markets must be explored for non-traditional agricultural exports. A business model of sports must be incorporated. Sport tourism must also be explored. Manufacturing sport apparel with the exclusive ‘Jamaica brand’ removes the issue of competition with cheap imports from Asia, because superior or prestige goods do not obey the same laws of supply and demand.

Given the strong work ethic of migrant Jamaican workers, the surplus can be absorbed by training professionals and skilled personnel who are in demand internationally. A system of bonding and remittance implications needs to be explored. Trade unions, employers and Government must coalesce, and other interest groups and social partners need to force policymakers to be more honest.


Based on the study that was carried out the researcher can safely said from the information gathered that unemployment can’t be generalized, as being caused by just one thing, but it is caused by a variety of reasons. Some of the main factors are:

Relevant skills

Educational qualification

The Organization of choice

More emphasis should be placed in educating people and creating jobs.


Unemployment hell

Published: Thursday | September 6, 2012 Kanika Tomlinson may be all smiles but like many high school and university graduates, she is deeply affected by the unavailability of work in the area of her training. – Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Kanika Tomlinson may be all smiles but like many high school and university graduates, she is deeply affected by the unavailability of work in the area of her training. – Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Wayne Chen, president of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation

Wayne Chen, president of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation

Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

High-achieving master’s degree holder struggles to find work.

JEF president tells job hunters to band together, form own businesses

Thirty-one-year-old Kanika Tomlinson did all the right things. A consistent high achiever, she pursued her dreams to the highest level, mastering her field.

Yet, despite having a master’s degree in law, specializing in international trade, development and business law from the University of Sydney, for the past three years she says she has been unable to get a job in her area of expertise and training.

“It has been very frustrating because when I know I am qualified to do something and I know that my country needs this area of specialty and no one will employ me, it is so frustrating,” she declared.

“For at least two job interviews, I have been told that I am overqualified, so they won’t even shortlist me for an interview. They won’t even try to negotiate with me.”

She added: “I am angry and frustrated and sometimes I wonder if it was a waste of time and money to get my master’s and now I can’t even use it. It is even more depressing when I see I have classmates in other countries who have gotten jobs in their field.”

Several qualified young persons have expressed the same frustration, many to the point of depression and hopelessness. Each year, more and more youths are leaving school with no jobs to turn to.

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