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For many years the Caribbean region has been a victim of emigration as the claws of first world nations and other promising islands in our region continue to snatch many from their countries of origin.
In 2020, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) said that there was a total of 9.08 million Caribbean migrants residing outside of their home country and according to migrationportal.org, in 2020 approximately 89.6 percent of Caribbean emigrants were in North America, South America and Europe and only 9.5 percent of the migrants lived in other Caribbean territories.
One cause for the ever-growing emigration numbers is the lack of opportunities for successful living in our region and one factor that points to that is the limited availability of jobs which then gives way to rising unemployment numbers.
One community being dealt a heavy blow by this is that of our young people. In 2019, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) reported that the youth unemployment rate of our region was 25.9% – no wonder intentions to emigrate exist among them.
We’ve heard many young people – some overqualified, say that they were unable to get a job because they were told that they lack work experience.
But what exactly determines work experience?
I’d like to put to you that the meaning of work experience has changed fundamentally in the last 5 or 10 years and I think it is somewhat ridiculous for some employers to still require of job seekers at least 5 years of work experience.
That sort of requirement is for a time when there were no 18-year-old Bachelor of Arts degree holders, or 26-year-old entrepreneurs. Such requirements better fit a world where a handful of the worlds richest weren’t just outside the age of 35.
Work experience today sometimes mean 4 years in a university with quality practical experience. Work experience today can also mean 2 years spent in quality leadership and management. It means the ability to build a brand and manage a strong network, to adapt to different situations think on your feet and apply the knowledge you have.
Of course, different professional arenas have their own individual requirements for the enrolment of persons in its various organisations. However, the general disregard of qualified young people because they haven’t spent 10 years in a miserable job must stop.
Employers must realise that the world has changed, and it hasn’t left the professional circuit behind.
The global community is more advanced and developed than ever before and so is the work force. So, let us rethink what “work experience” means so that opportunities can be accessed by more of our young people.