Private and public sector employers are continuing to express concern about the lack of preparedness which many school leavers display on entering the world of work, Minister of Labour and Social Security Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo revealed today.
In remarks at the official opening of the inaugural World of Work Showcase sponsored by Regional Management Services Inc. at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, she gave an assurance that Government was committed to addressing the issue.
Byer-Suckoo noted that while a number of non-governmental organizations had successfully hosted careers showcases over the years to expose secondary students to career options and provide opportunities for interaction with potential employers, some employers still were not satisfied that these prospective employees were up to the required standards.
“I have heard concerns expressed by employers in the private as well as the public sector, regarding the lack of readiness for new entrants into the working environment,” Byer-Suckoo said.
“They are quite concerned that students coming into the workplace, either from our secondary schools or our tertiary institutions, are not quite ready for the world of work. It has been reported frequently that our young people lack what is referred to as the soft skills. Our Social Partners have also been concerned about this.”
The Minister of Labour said her ministry had discussions with the Social Partnership – which also involves the private sector and trade unions – about the issue. Without giving details she said: “We are committed to dealing with (the issue) individually and collaboratively.”
Stressing that it was necessary for students to equip themselves with the skills required to enter the workplace, Byer-Suckoo called for a special programme to be introduced in each secondary school to support this objective.
She also called on employers to continue to support internship and apprenticeship programmes that currently exist or to develop their own. “There is a need to develop a formalized world of work training programme within all secondary schools so that all students will be equipped with the necessary soft skills and life skills before entering the working environment,” she said.
“Such a programme would also expose students to the working environment through job shadowing and internships or apprenticeships . . . they are meaningful ways of building your competencies and transferring those correct work attitudes and behaviours, having that exposure to a workplace,” she added.
Managing Director of Regional Management Services Inc., Dennis DePeiza, said he believes the World of Work Showcase will play a significant role in helping to address some of the concerns employers have expressed about potential employees.
“It can be said that this World of Work Showcase brings with it a level of innovation,” he said.
Telling students that no one owes them a job, DePeiza encouraged them not to be daunted by the challenges they may encounter when they try to enter the world of work.
The students were also urged to join a trade union when they begin to work.