Jamaican Stakeholders Discuss the 2015 Human Development Report - Work for Human Development

May 18, 2016

UNDP Resident Representative, Bruno Pouezat (2nd right), discusses the 2015 Human Development Report with officers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Permanent Secretary, Collette Roberts-Risden (right), Chief Technical Director (Labour), Damian Cox (2nd left) and Chief Technical Director (Social Security) Dione Jennings (left) at a Panel Discussion on the theme of the report 'Work for Human Development.' Photo Credit: UNDP Jamaica.

Work and Human Development, and the implications of the new realities of the world of work for Jamaicans, were explored during a recent panel discussion organised during Jamaica’s Workers Week celebrations.

The event, which discussed the themes of UNDP’s 2015 Human Development Report, ‘Work for Human Development’, was organised in Kingston on 18 May 2016 by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in partnership with the UNDP Jamaica country office.

Minister of Labour and Social Security, Shahine Robinson, described the activity as timely and relevant to Jamaica. She noted that that “it is fitting that this discussion is taking place under the theme: ‘Rethinking Work For Human Development’ for work contributes to the richness of human lives and the richness of economies. It is appropriate, too, that the assessment of new workplace realities is taking place during Workers Week when we pay tribute to Jamaican workers for their contribution to nation-building and economic development.” In his remarks, UNDP Resident Representative Bruno Pouezat encouraged local stakeholders to utilise the Human Development Report as a valuable resource in providing information and ideas about how work can support human development.

“In looking at Work for Human Development, the 2015 HDR calls on all our countries to take into account the new realities of the world of work and ensure that there are policies which address various types of work and secure human development,” the Resident Representative said.

These new realities of globalisation and the digital revolution on work, women and the world of work and youth unemployment, globally and in Jamaica, were discussed by a panel of local experts drawn from the trade union movement, the Jamaica Employer’s Federation and the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

The engaging discussion by panellists highlighted the fact that more needs to be done to get Jamaica’s youth ready for the world of work as youth unemployment in the island – at 34% is much higher than the national unemployment rate of 13%.

Wayne Wesley, a panellist from the national training agency, the HEART Trust, pointed to the importance of equipping youth to meet the new demands of the workplace.

The status of Jamaican women in the workplace was also an issue to which panellists drew attention. While Jamaica Employee Federation president, David Wan, said he felt Jamaican women had broken through the glass ceiling, trade unionist Helene Davis Whyte and other speakers disagreed.

Mrs. Davis-Whyte pointed out that although Jamaican women are well represented in the workplace they are yet to break through into upper managerial and supervisory positions.

The need for better social protection for Jamaican workers was highlighted by representatives from both the private sector and the trade unions in the discussion. Mr. Wan, mooted the idea of a regional unemployment insurance scheme, which would offer protection particularly to workers who lose their jobs in Caribbean territories experiencing high unemployment, such as Jamaica.

Trade unionist Danny Roberts also noted the need for protecting workers who are increasingly being placed on short term contracts with limited provisions for health, pension and other social security benefits.

“The contractual relationship we have inherited under globalisation does not provide even the necessary statutory protection for unskilled workers,” Mr. Roberts declared.

All these issues reflected key findings in the UNDP Human Development Report for 2015, which points out that at the global level:

Youth participation in the world of work is decreasing everywhere

Even though, women carry out the major share of global work, they face disadvantage in the world of work, both in paid and unpaid work

Despite new opportunities, increasingly more jobs are now becoming vulnerable – part-time and short-term- and decent labour practices are being violated by a ‘race to the bottom’ propelled by deepening globalization and facilitated by technology, outsourcing, and global value chains

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