It is no secret that the current job market has become more challenging and even more competitive than before, so young people have been advised to enter it with an open mind, and where possible, find their passion and look towards entrepreneurship as a means to make a living.
The advice came from a number of speakers at the start of the third annual World of Work Showcase put on by Regional Management Services Inc. at the Central Bank of Barbados’ headquarters in Bridgetown.
Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, told the students that “the International Labour Office says youth unemployment, on average, is three times the level of adult unemployment, so there must be a continued focus on retraining, retooling and re-skilling of our workforce if Barbados is to combat the effects of poverty on our society.”
He stated that the Government was fully committed to that process,
“We are continually conducting research and analyzing data, including identifying gaps in required skills, and we share this information with the relevant stakeholders, policymakers and training institutions so they can prepare students adequately. If Barbados is to be successful, we will need productive workers. We must be cognizant of the specific needs and vulnerabilities of young people, and equip them with the knowledge, attitudes and relevant skills to help the country develop,” he stated.
The Labour Minister reminded the students not to lose faith despite the challenges within the job market, and to consider the route of self-employment if necessary.
“Finding that ‘good job’ everyone aspires to is becoming increasingly difficult, and more than ever, you are competing for jobs with people outside of Barbados, but let me reassure you that all is not lost. Don’t see it as a challenge, but as a better opportunity. Give some thought to becoming your own boss, find out what you are passionate about and good at, and use it to create a viable career for yourself. But don’t stop there, keep it going and eventually you may become an employer.”
Meanwhile, Group Human Resources Director for Williams Industries Inc. Diana Douglas acknowledged that while entrepreneurship and “working from home for companies based all over the world” were becoming more commonplace, there was still room for traditional careers. With that, she reminded the students that the first impression they gave potential employers was very important.
Citing examples, she told them, “take time to research the company, its people and their culture, because one of the worst things you can get as a recruiter is when candidates sit in front of you and they cannot tell you anything about the company. Ensure your email address is professional-sounding, that is, no sexual references or nicknames. And contrary to popular belief, companies look at the activities on your social media accounts; we can look at your behaviour, your language, who you interact with, and we can determine whether we want you in our company or not.
“You also have to tighten up your attitudes, how you interact with others. Recruiters are profiling you from the time they see you, they look at how you sit down. Are you disconnected from everyone? Are you constantly on your phone, did you turn off your phone before the meeting? Are you courteous and polite when people speak to you and do you maintain eye contact when in conversation with someone? Keep all of these things in mind.”
Students from nine secondary schools took part in the event and some of them will eventually qualify for internships with four companies, including Duty Free Caribbean, the Coalition of Service Industries, Caribbean Catalyst Inc., and the Barbados Employers Confederation.