The story is true, but poignant & hurtful. A very bright, well mannered, articulate young man graduates from one of the traditional boys’ high school in Kingston which has existed for over 100 years. He is armed with 2 hands full of CSEC passes with very good grades and a number of CAPE Level 1s. Heapplies to the University of Technology (UTECH) and is accepted to read for a degree in Hospitality & Tourism. He successfully completes his course, obtains a Bsc.in Hospitality & Tourism. During the course of his study he was required to do internships during the summer breaks in the last two years, which he successfully completed at a leading all-inclusive hotel and an award winning restaurant. He graduates. He sends out dozens of applications for a job to all of the leading hotels & resorts in Jamaica. Initially, as a management trainee, but subsequently for any position at all. He obtains interviews. He interviews well. He does not have the experience for a management trainee position and he is over-qualified for bottom-end line jobs in the hotels. Although his education was funded by his parents, he needs to work. He no longer wishes to be a burden on his parents. He eventually finds full- time employment in a BPO facility. He works hard and pays his bills.
He is not alone. Approximately fifty percent of his graduating class in the BSc. Hospitality & Tourism are working outside of hospitality & tourism. This is not by choice, or because they are not bright, articulate, hard- working ambitious young people, but because there are no jobs at their level of qualification and (in) experience.
This true story is the backdrop for the issue of this brief piece. How, if at all, are Guidance Counsellors in high Schools matching labour market trends and demands with the advice they give to their charges on career paths?
There are more lawyers graduating in Jamaica than there are jobs available to them. There are more doctors graduating in Jamaica than there are internships available to them. There are more teachers graduating from the several Teachers’ Colleges & Universities, than there are teaching jobs available to them. How much time do our guidance counsellors spend in the data analytics of the labour markets? How much time is spent in labour market trend analysis? The solution is not and cannot be trying to make a few phone calls to the Jamaica Employers Federation or the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce or the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica to find out the jobs on hire. The solution is in the more widespread use of predictive analytics.
“No one has the ability to capture and analyse data from the future. However, there is a way to predict the future by using data from the past. It’s called predictive analytics, and organisations do it every day”
Tom Davenport A Predictive Analytics primer
Science Again! The national fear of math and math-based solutions has to be conquered. In a previous article, I wrote that the government needs to pick winners. Now more than ever, it needs to offer fully paid scholarships in all of the S.T.E.M. areas to bright, hardworking energetic high school graduates with the appropriate bonding arrangements.
All of the guidance counsellors that I know are kind, compassionate, caring individuals who are really good at the touch-feely aspects of their jobs. However, on the sole measureable output of their jobs, that is, the number of graduating students who are successfully channelled into jobs after tertiary or even secondary education, I regret to say, the jury is still out.
Ought our high schools to have full time career counsellors armed with all of the scientific tools as well as guidance counsellors?