“Equip, Empower, Engage” – Career Exposition Reaches Over 1500 Students
Choosing a career path is a crucial decision in a young person’s life, one that requires significant guidance and resources to maximize the potential of each individual and enable them to make informed choices about viable employment options.
In Jamaica, HelpAge International and Hope for Children Development Company put this lesson into action through a Joint Career Exposition for High School Students, an important milestone in one of the three Jamaican projects funded through the EC-UN Joint Migration for Development Initiative (EU-UN JMDI), for which UNDP Jamaica acts as a focal point.
The project Mitigating the Negative Impact of Migration on the Multi-generational household in Jamaica has the objective to reduce the negative impact of migration on multi-generational households (MGHs) in Jamaica by increasing access to information, services and entitlements and reducing socio-economic exclusion, especially of the families left behind.
Part of this is shepherding young Jamaicans to proper careers. Mary Nichols, head of the Guidance Counselling Unit at the Ministry of Education, recently spoke to reporters saying, “"The career chosen by young people will determine whether Jamaica has sufficient professionals and other workers in the country that we can achieve our targets by 2030." And the opposition spokesman on Education, Senator Basil Waite, expressed the opinion that there was not currently enough guidance offered to career guidance in schools.
These issues are exactly what the UNDP and partners aimed to address when they held the Inaugural Joint Career Exposition at St. Andrew Technical High School in Kingston on January 21 2011. Under the theme "Equip, Empower, Engage", over 1500 students from 9 High Schools actively participated in the featured career sessions.
A rich interaction across age groups, as students, teachers and parents took place. The target schools were St. Andrew Technical High, Charlie Smith High, Haile Selassie High, Trench Town High, Norman Manley High, Tivoli Gardens High, Whitfield All Age, Greenwich All Age, and Denham Town High. 35 students from The Young Women's Christian Association also participated. The students were able to network, exchange ideas and discover more opportunities.
Like many nations, Jamaica is grappling with elevated levels of youth unemployment, partly to do with a disconnect between the skills taught in institutions and what the market requires. One Jamaican graduate, recently having left university, commented on the culture she'd encountered. "There's not much options when you're growing up - you're told you have to be doctor or a lawyer or a businessman, and when you graduate you realise everyone's done the same thing and nobody needs you."
The careers expo acts as a remedy to this, engaging students from early on in their education to consider a wide range of careers and equp themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to make themselves employable and provide the services the country will need in the future.