2 Tier Status: Human Trafficking in the Land of Wood and Water

By Sara-Lou Angelique Morgan-Walker

rescue

 

What is Human Trafficking?

Well, from the name, I could decipher that it was human beings being transferred from one location to the next. However, I never quite understood the gravity of it. I was a university graduate who was unemployed and in debt due to a decent size student loan. Consequently, my drive to be fully socially aware of the world’s crisis had slowly depleted to a thin thread over the years after completing my university education. I had become morally and intellectually insensitive to the spurts of crime in my own country of Jamaica and I certainly wasn’t planning to lose sleep over what was happening in first world countries.

 It was not until June 2014, when I got the opportunity to partake in the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Leadership Training session that I became aware of the National Integrity Action, a non-governmental organization combating corruption and building integrity in Jamaica. They presented a ten-minute video of an intercepted human trafficking transaction. It involved a man closing a deal with three Caucasian men of how much they could pay to have his niece and when she would leave. One of the men expressed interest in seeing and testing out the goods first; of which the uncle requested additional money for such a favour. They obliged and he brought one of the men into a back room where the girl was sitting on a bed, scared and seemingly in shock. I bet she was relieved when the Caucasian man said to her, “It’s okay, I won’t hurt you, I am a police investigator. This is all a part of an FBI investigation, and you will be safe. Just stay here while I go and close the deal and make the necessary arrangements to have you transported to a safe house.”

The video ended with the entire family – two uncles, her aunt, and two cousins – being arrested and charged with human trafficking, facilitating trafficking in persons, and living on the earnings of prostitution. After the video presentation, I was so enraged I didn’t hear much of what was said by the NIA team, during the question and answer section, nor in their wrap up of ‘how we could become involved’. I could not fathom how guardians who were responsible for protecting and caring for their loved ones, could willingly participate in activities that put those same children in danger. Activities that would leave them with years of trauma and emotional scars and foreshadow their entire lives. I was not sure how I could get involved in this fight against human trafficking. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to get involved, but my heart was on another course. I had a passion for the empowerment of girls within the foster care system and those in various correctional facilities.

I decided to Google “Human Trafficking in Jamaica”, to see what information I could garner. It was like looking at a compass to decide where you were and which direction you needed to go. To say that I was majorly disappointed in what I found would be an understatement. There were numerous articles about Jamaica attaining Tier 2 ranking in the United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report having climbed from a Tier 2 Watch List. Even with my university education, I was clueless as to how this translated on the ground in Jamaica. I had no idea how this was reflected in the inner-city communities and what it even meant.

However, I occasionally contemplated the whereabouts of all the missing girls that would creep across my television screen each night. Nightly, an array of photos deciphering girls between the ages of nine and seventeen would be displayed immediately following the local and international news. An act of appeal came from the police department and loved ones to the public, to report the whereabouts or come forward with any information about any of the girls, leading to the perpetrator(s)’ arrest(s). Dozens of girls were shown each night and you would never see the same set of girls on any given broadcast. It had become so commonplace that many people were no longer emotionally affected or appalled.

I tried to make a connection between the missing girls and our human trafficking dilemma in Jamaica, but it was not until listening to a keynote address from the Children’s Advocate of Jamaica, Mrs. Diahann Gordon-Harrison, in April 2016, that I was able to measure the gravity of human trafficking in our little island of wood and water. An island that attracted close to two million visitors each year, if not more. An island that was just a mere dot on the global map but was known around the world for one of two things: our crime rate or our athlete’s performance in any recent track and field championships.

Jamaica was a transit and a source for human traffickers. Traffickers targeted women and children who were on the lower spectrum of the economic strata. They focused on victims who were already in abusive situations, prostitutes trying to make ends meet, and broken families from the most vulnerable communities. Human trafficking was a thirty-two billion-dollar industry, and every pauperized individual without any morals wanted a piece of the pie, and for those on the latter end of the trickling system that probably even meant the crumbs.

This had to be the precise explanation as to why we were never able to locate our girls that were missing, no matter how quickly we responded to the Missing Person’s Report. This led me into a mental frenzy as I sat in a pew at my church looking through the gates at the surrounding zinc fence houses at people that lined the streets, engaging in lively conversations and even laughter. My church was in the South Side, a vulnerable community referred to by many American artists such as Nicki Minaj and Sean Kingston in their songs. A community that lacked valuable information; a community that lived on less than the country’s minimum wage of US $46 per week. A community whose young people were enslaved in their own community, due to a lack of employment opportunities, education, and any source of income gain.

A thought-provoking realization formed in my mind. I, a graduate of the University of the West Indies who had access to the internet, various lecture series and campaign forums, and multiple governmental and lead agencies debates, still did not know the depth of human trafficking and how it affected vulnerable communities in Jamaica. How much more would those women and men in these communities know about human trafficking? These women and men, who were more concerned about their immediate needs of basic of food, clothing, and shelter. Can they identify a trafficker? Do they know who to report to should they have an inclination that they are being lured into trafficking? Do they even know how to protect their children and other loved ones? I could not even answer these questions, and that’s when I realize that the Heads of Government, the team at NIA, The National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), and all the other NGOs involved in fighting human trafficking had failed.

These bodies had failed in breaking down the facts of human trafficking so the most vulnerable among us could digest it. They, along with the Church, had failed to organize multimedia campaigns and town hall meetings where members of the community could present their questions to government officials and the Human Trafficking Task Force personnel. They had failed to involve community members in their module and strategy to combat human trafficking in Jamaica, along their journey of acquiring Tier One status in the United States Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report.

In an effort to bring solution and a positive response to aforementioned questions, I present the following simple but presumably effective suggestions:

  • The month of January is promoted as Human Trafficking Month. It is my belief that the National Integrity Action or any non-governmental agencies who fight against human trafficking -The National Taskforce Against Trafficking in Persons (NATFATIP), Child Development Agency of Jamaica, government officials, member of Parliament, and partnering organizations – should host a minimum of two public forums and town hall meetings, across the 14 parishes of Jamaica. This would give community members an opportunity to engage in conversations, share their concerns, and have their queries answered. Such efforts would educate the public on the dangers of trafficking, teach them how to identify traffickers, and make them familiar with legal charges for being involved in trafficking.

  • Engage the public to make videos advocating for the fight against human trafficking, using social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to promote their ideas and get mass support. This would attract more young people to the cause. These videos can be used in various media campaigns during Human Trafficking Month, promoting awareness to residents of Jamaica. Young people should also get the opportunity to be youth ambassadors and participate in human trafficking forums throughout the Caribbean.

  • Various international organizations such as A21, IJM (International Justice Mission) should extend subsidize mission and outreach trips to church youth groups. Over the years, I have learnt that hands-on experience and exposure through volunteerism and participation evoke a deeper sense of compassion and responsibility in young adults (18-35) than lecture series and publications will ever do.

I will not deny that work is being done in Jamaica, but I strongly believe that officials have collectively covered their heads, leaving their bottoms exposed. More can be done and should these suggestions be taken into consideration we can climb to Tier One status.


Sara-Lou Angelique Morgan-Walker was born and raised on the tropical island of Jamaica. She began writing at the early age of eight as a medium to express herself. Sara-Lou found the way words flowed together exciting. She has a passion for aiding in the rehabilitation and reintegration process of girls who are being abused, living within the foster care system, and/or are being confined to a correctional facility. She hopes to one day own girls homes in Jamaica, Africa, Haiti, and anywhere else the Lord lays on her heart. She blogs at  https://journey2selfloveblog.wordpress.com and  https://brokentoberestored.wordpress.com/.

Being a ‘Good Girl’: Redefining the Female Role in Education and the Real World

By Mary McCallum

My parents are both Jamaican. One of the greatest things my parents aspired to for me was to ‘get an education’ – whilst abiding by their ideas of how an educated woman should think and behave.

The experience of growing up as a child of an immigrant, the first generation born in a new country, is unique within itself. You carry the expectations of the generation before you on your shoulders, whilst straddling cultural mores and differences on a daily basis. But I believe this circumstance has its own flavour when you are the child of a Caribbean parent.

My parents are both Jamaican. One of the greatest things my parents aspired to for me was to ‘get an education’ – whilst abiding by their ideas of how an educated woman should think and behave. And yet this was an oxymoron since part of education is owning the power of self-definition and self-expression.

When writing this, I am acutely aware of the ‘privilege’, whether perceived or real, that I have. I was able to attend school consistently in England, whilst my parents only managed part-time attendance in Jamaica as children due to poverty, illness, and ignorance. I was taught to read when I was three years old (full credit to my mother) whereas my parents’ literacy was achieved mainly by self-effort.

And now, with two degrees under my belt, I am able to run my own business with the help of a laptop and the worldwide web. Something that my mum and dad, who did various forms of manual labour during their lives, still can’t quite believe is real.

But these things came at a price.

My parents’ view of the world, what they had been taught in the Caribbean, was that education was the key to improving your life. They ingrained in me that getting that ‘piece of paper’ was the key to lifelong success. What they didn’t know, and what I realised in a rude awakening at 21, was that a ‘piece of paper’ was not enough to function well in British society as an educated person.

I felt like I had been duped. It’s like running in a race and just when you pass the finish line, and you think you’ve won, you realise that someone moved the line another 500 metres down the road, and the other runners have left you for dust. You have no energy left to run and you feel like a failure.

My parents’ view of the world, what they had been taught in the Caribbean, was that education was the key to improving your life…. What they didn’t know,… was that a ‘piece of paper’ was not enough to function well in British society as an educated person.

You mean all the hours of studying had been for nothing? No, they were not for nothing – but they were the bare bones of what I needed to succeed.

Throughout school, I always received exemplary school reports. There was only ever one criticism that I heard over and over again: “I wish she would ask more questions.” At the time, I didn’t think too much of it apart from thinking – what more do they want from me? I go to lessons on time, I do my work, I do homework, I listen, I obey instructions. My parents always told me that that’s what I needed to do.

But getting older, I realised what was missing: My Voice.

Being raised in a sheltered home and a small, ultra-strict Pentecostal church, I was encouraged into the role of the ‘good girl’. The good girl does what her parents tell her. The good girl goes to school and concentrates. The good girl gets good grades. The good girl doesn’t get involved with ‘friend and company.’ The good girl is not social. The good girl stays home. The good girl is not sexual. The good girl is quiet. The good girl only goes to church. The good girl obeys.

These messages were intended to keep me ‘safe’ but also to minimise the fears of individuals trying to survive in a new and sometimes hostile environment. But overprotection is dangerous, despite coming from the best of intentions. It impairs the one who it is meant to protect because that individual cannot function independently, despite being a full-grown adult.

I get it. My parents didn’t want me to get drawn into the wrong crowd. They didn’t want me to get pregnant underage, to become another statistic. They had the best of hopes for me. But my ‘obedience’ had stunted my personal growth.

I spent hours of time at school and university in my books, alone, making sure I got my work done. I had avoided parties and social events, thinking that they were unnecessary to my goal of getting an education. And those things were ‘worldly’ anyway – a detriment to my spiritual life. I thought that this was the best for me, but one event changed my mind completely.

Being raised in a sheltered home and a small, ultra-strict Pentecostal church, I was encouraged into the role of the ‘good girl….. But overprotection is dangerous, despite coming from the best of intentions. It impairs the one who it is meant to protect because that individual cannot function independently, despite being a full-grown adult.

In my first job after university, I was invited to an evening networking event. I walked into a room of 50 or more people and realised that everyone was talking to everyone else, totally absorbed in conversation. I was invisible. I stood there dumbfounded. I wanted to speak to someone but I had nothing to say. I didn’t know where to start. I was good at ‘church talk’ – “Praise the Lord” and “God bless you” amongst other phrases. I could talk in depth about theology and the Bible. But I had no clue about how to make general conversation at a work or social event with other adults. And even if I had something to say, would they want to listen anyway?

That’s when it struck me: my piece of paper can’t help me now. I had a qualification from one of the top universities in the UK but no social skills. I had been a good girl all my life and now I had no clue how to operate in the world at large.

I had to take a long, hard look at myself and question everything I had ever been taught.

I forced myself onto a journey of self-growth. I had to answer some really difficult questions for myself: Who do I want to be? Who is God to me? What do I believe is right or wrong? How is that different to that of my parents or community? How do I define success? What do I need to do to achieve my goals?

I forced myself into more unfamiliar social situations. I forced myself to say yes to invitations out rather than say no all the time. And even though it was difficult and I felt like a total failure at times, I slowly found my feet. I learnt who to trust and who to shy away from. I learnt how to speak up for myself and make myself heard. I learnt how to showcase my skills instead of hiding them under the guise of ‘humility’ or worrying about the ‘badmind’ of others.

In the real world, having a qualification is only half the battle. Promotions and opportunities tend to be given to those who are the friendliest, the most open to others, those who network the best… not necessarily the most qualified.

That’s when it struck me: my piece of paper can’t help me now. I had a qualification from one of the top universities in the UK but no social skills. I had been a good girl all my life and now I had no clue how to operate in the world at large

But that’s not fair! No, it’s not fair – but how things should be is worlds away from how things really are. Yes, you need to study hard. But you need to put in just as much effort into being a well-rounded individual and getting along with other people in order to be successful in the world of work, and in life.

Education isn’t just about books and a piece of paper. Education is about being able to operate in multiple social situations, about being able to use your skills wherever you go. It is about being able to relate to people from multiple walks of life and be able to think beyond the scope of your experiences and the people that you know. It is about knowing how to cling onto the good that you have been taught and release any belief that is blocking you from achieving your personal best.

Education isn’t just about books and a piece of paper. Education is about being able to operate in multiple social situations, about being able to use your skills wherever you go.

What have you been taught is your ‘role’ in your family and your community? And are these roles helping or hindering you from achieving your best? I hope that I have inspired you with my story and I look forward to hearing your stories and experiences in the comments below.


Mary McCallum is a first generation Londoner, the daughter of Jamaican parents who emigrated to England just after the Windrush era. She is passionate about breaking through societal limitations imposed upon women, whilst empowering them to achieve their personal best through education and self-esteem building. She runs a successful YouTube channel and blog, The Curly Closet, with a focus on natural hair care, lifestyle and beauty for Black women.

Her YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/TheCurlyCloset

Life: Who Said It Would Be This Complicated?

As we look within our Caribbean region there is much happening in the lives of our children and youth. Mostly what we see and hear appears to be only negative. We could discuss at length the many reasons  it seems as though the youth of our islands appear to be a lost generation as some have suggested.

I do not subscribe to this view but what I have come to realise from speaking to young people is that many of them are unsure about what the future holds and this brings fear and anxiety. In fact, what we the adults have failed to do is to prepare them for LIFE and all that it can bring. I especially came to this conclusion after a youth night at church and recognised that our teens and young adults are beginning a journey of which they are absolutely clueless and are expected to master. They are trying to juggle all of the matters that arise with getting older, balancing relationships with adults and friends, navigating their emotions along with a host of other challenges which arise for them.

Many of the youth related issues we see rearing their heads today are as a result of the failure of a majority of those in authority, whether they are parents, adults, teachers, police, politicians, clergymen etc, setting good examples and taking the time to correctly guide and mentor young people. It is one thing to shout orders, the famous ‘do as I say’ but it is another to show the right precepts, ‘do as I do’.

As I have recently entered my 30s, I have learned a thing or two on my journey of life which I would like to share with you. These are a few of the things I wish someone had told me so that I could have avoided all the mistakes I made and I hope this will be a source of encouragement to someone.

1. Find out who you are – One of the greatest questions we all have in life is ‘Who am I’? I realised that if I had sought the answers to this question, I could have avoided trying to fit it in and trying to act like the popular kids hoping their awesomeness would rub off on me. I would have instead been content with being who I was. The problem was I had no clue about myself. If I did, I wouldn’t have followed the crowd but been a leader. Successful people are self aware. They know what drives them, what they like and love themselves for it. Get a pen and paper and write down all of your qualities, your likes and dislikes, your talents and gifts, what you’re good at. This will help you on the path to discovery.

2. Boost your confidence – Learn to love who you are, the way you look, the way you think. Don’t let other people define you and don’t compare yourself to others. The people in magazines do NOT look that way in real life. The people flaunting in music videos aren’t always as happy as you think. Don’t try to be them. Never forget that inward beauty (character) is the most important part of who you are. If you have to look in the mirror and speak affirming words to yourself daily, then do it. It may seem silly but life and death are in the power of the tongue so speak life to yourself. I had to do this and trust me when I tell you, IT WORKS!

3. What do you want to achieve? – What are your goals in life? What are the things that matter to you? What are your priorities? What do you want to achieve? What are you passionate about? Write these down as well and make a list of how you will go about achieving them.

4. Get that education – You knew this was coming right but it is truly, so important. Education helps to open the gateway to figuring out what you love and want to do with your life. I know a three or four year degree seems long and yes, it is hard work but see it as an investment in your future. You can do it and you get the satisfaction of completion and getting that degree.

5. Be patient – I was obsessed with getting older. When you’re 12, you can’t wait to be 16. At 16, you can’t wait to be 18. At 18, you can’t wait to be 21. Slow down! Enjoy growing up because it goes by all too quickly and then you have to be an adult and pay bills.

These are but a few of the lessons I learned and I hope they are useful to you. You can do it and remember to enjoy every moment of your life adventure

____________________

Deswyn Haynes is a regionalist with special interest in international relations and issues of the environment. She holds a B.Sc. in Political Science from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill and is currently pursuing a M.Sc. in Integration Studies. When she isn’t traveling across the Caribbean, she spends most of her time involved in church activities and enjoying island life in Barbados.

Tunnel Vision

When living on a small island (or in any small community for that matter), unless you live under a rock, it  is difficult not to know what your fellow peers are doing. In addition, with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram you  won’t miss  the daily updates; that’s if you don’t run into them every time you go to town.

With this said, if you are not focused on what you need to do to get ahead, you may find yourself diverged with what those said peers are up to. Rather worse, you may start comparing yourself to them and feeling that their goals should be your goals and their vision your vision. This feeling often comes up because you’re not comfortable with your current situation: you should have your degree by now, you should have your own business, you should have landed your top job by now, even more so, you should actually be working in a job related to your degree. Yes, all these feelings have gone through the minds of many of the readers that are viewing this article right now.

It is not easy at times when you are viewing the world around you and everyone else seems like they are moving ahead and you feel stuck at ground zero. It is not as if you are not trying to mobilize yourself, but not having any connections, applying for ten jobs a week and not getting a reply, being “over qualified”, and the like, you just feel stagnant. What to do?

The first thing is to know that you are not the only one who goes through this and that many young people within the Caribbean are vying to start a career, get their career off the ground, get money to start school or go back to school, etc. However, we are all human and we will notice the success or apparent success of others. My advice is to get some “tunnel vision”.

TUNNEL VISION IS A CONCENTRATED FOCUS ON WHAT IS AHEAD

Tunnel vision is a concentrated focus on what is ahead. It is a centralized focus. You are not focused on whats to the left or the right so there are limited hindrances. This is not to say don’t be connected to what is going on around you, but there has to be a time in life when you are so focused on your vision that what others are doing is not a distraction. Similar to if you were looking from inside a tunnel the only light you can see is at the tunnel exit. It is your focus, your goal. You focus on that until you reach it. Beyond it you enter the possibilities that it brings. The beauty of what working hard has accomplished.

‘The light at the end of your tunnel’ should be your goals. Write them down, take daily actions to accomplish them. Be intentional about those actions. Most importantly, be focused. The more you focus on what you want to do, and what you need to do to get what you want, the more your vision and your goals become clearer. They will not be muddled with what others are doing or accomplishing. Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel.

 __________________________

Claytine Nisbett is a community development advocate with a special interest in gender and youth development. She holds a BA in Sociology and is Certified in Non-Profit Management. She has spent close to 15 years contributing to the Non Profit field ranging from secretary to board member. She manages Ujima Solutions and all interested blog contributors can contact her at cnjnisbett@yahoo.com

CRISIS PRESENTS OPPORTUNITY

As I sit to reflect on all that is happening throughout the region: economic uncertainty, political upheavals, increase in domestic violence and abuse towards children, increases in violence and crime towards fellow citizens and visitors alike, I see so many opportunities for us as citizens of the region to transform our societies.

In times of crisis, there are two paths which we can take. We can either take the path toward hopelessness or the path toward opportunity. On the path of hopelessness, we worry, complain and become frustrated. However, on the path of opportunity, we meet fulfillment, success, and joy. Doesn’t the path toward opportunity sound so much better?!

It is easier to sit and complain about all that we believe is not going well. We can talk incessantly about what our leaders are not doing and what we think they should do and after we have exhausted the conversation, we throw our hands up and say things like, ‘That’s the system’ or ‘What else can you do?’. There is a famous saying ‘Be The change You Want To See’. Being from Barbados, I constantly hear these kinds of statements being made especially now as the country faces many challenges including job cuts, wage freezes and growing youth unemployment. These kinds of oppositions are also occurring in many islands in the Caribbean. The question many are asking in these times is “What can be done?” It may seem hopeless on the surface but I hope to challenge that notion a bit.

“Crisis gives us an opportunity to tap into that part of ourselves we never would have…”

In economic turmoil, we can become entrepreneurs and tap into our amazing creativity. Gone are the days of having to use our energies for making others successful, we can do that for ourselves and create a space where we can be our own boss and use our talents to not only benefit ourselves but present new and enticing products for others.  Are you concerned and passionate about a particular social issue that is plaguing your nation? Become a member of an organisation that is dedicated to speaking out against these issues. Domestic violence and child abuse are two such areas that you can become involved in. Many of these organisations are desperate for ‘young blood’, young people with new, fresh ideas who are passionate for these causes. They are looking for individuals dedicated to the organisation and movement and who will be able to one day lead a new generation of members and effecting real change.

Do you believe that political arena needs to have significant change? The voice of the youth is badly needed to transform the ‘old boys’ club of the politics in the region. Some Caribbean countries will be engaging in the electoral process in 2014. Don’t only be concerned about placing an ‘X’ on the ballot or just ‘talk’ about the campaigns but get out there and demand that the standard of politics be lifted by raising your discussions. When you demand more, politicians must oblige.

Crisis gives us an opportunity to tap into that part of ourselves we never would have, if we were not driven off course and needed to plot a new destination. Where are you destined to? Don’t be a passenger but be a driver on life’s journey. Visualise where you want to go and what you want to see happen and chart that course. It is inside of you; don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

_______________

Deswyn Haynes is a regionalist with special interest in international relations and issues of the environment. She holds a B.Sc. in Political Science from the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill and is currently pursuing a M.Sc. in Integration Studies. When she isn’t travelling across the Caribbean, she spends most of her time involved in church activities and enjoying island life in Barbados.

Making amends: When government assistance is more than a hand out

Recently I participated in a discussion on the role Caribbean governments should play in the economic empowerment of young people and where the line should be drawn.

A friend suggested that young people tend to expect too much from their governments. He said not only do they want scholarships to leave the islands to study, they also expect a job on their return home.

After suggesting that governments should do more to give young people a leg up, I was struggling with what I thought was a contradiction in my belief system, for I fancy myself somewhat of a libertarian.

From the latin word liber meaning free, libertarians believe in personal freedoms and are generally skeptical of governmental authority.  Libertarians believe that every time the state passes a new law, it leaves us with a little less freedom, and so government should be confined to doing only what is absolutely necessary for the society: like building roads and employing a police force and justice system.

As such, I am philosophically opposed to over-dependence on governments for sustenance.  I do not believe that young people should expect government to house, clothe, feed and educate them. And once educated I do not believe that young people should expect the state to give them a job, or funding for their business idea.

However, what I thought was hypocrisy on my end turned out, on deeper reflection, not to be. The problem is that all my libertarian ideals are fine in theory, but philosophy and reality often times do not align.

The reality is that government has to do some of those things that I am philosophically opposed to in order to level a playing field that is often times stacked against the youth.

We should not be fooled. Many of the “successful” businessmen that we observe in the region today, for example, did not pull themselves up by the bootstraps armed only with their innovative ideas and good business sense.

In fact, some of the most successful in our societies received significant help from the same government. Whether through nepotism, cronyism, bribes, kickbacks, or corruption, the playing field is not level and it never has been.

 

CARICOM governments are currently seeking reparatory justice from former colonial heads for the negative impact slavery has had on our development and the economic boost it gave to Europe.

Well right here in our own backyards young entrepreneurs should be seeking a sort of reparatory justice for their inability to break into a business sector, built up in many cases by ill-gotten monopolies, that is trying to lock them out.

Those in the private sector who built their empires on government contracts received without going through a bidding process, also need to make amends.

So you see, one cannot blame young people for seeking a leg up from government when the system has been stacked against them. Neither can one force this generation to live by libertarian ideals of self-dependence when the last generation observed no such boundaries.

Many young people, fresh out of secondary school or college with their bright ideas, only want an opportunity, a fair shot at making a decent life for themselves.

Solutions

To begin leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs small business loan guarantees offered by some governments do not go far enough. We need innovative ideas like policies that require a fixed percentage of government contracts go to small businesses owned by those under 35 (where they are qualified to perform the job of course).

Corporation tax breaks could be given to those businesses who hire inexperienced youth into entry level positions.

Good corporate citizenship also dictates that those who have built up wealth in the days when the Caribbean was less of a free market need to make amends as well.

Internships and management trainee programmes or scholarships for youth studying for degrees in fields related to the business would be a good first step.

These measures should not be viewed through lenses of over-dependency on government but rather as steps that will in the long-run make our economies fairer, stronger and more competitive.

_______________

 Kyle Christian is a journalist at Observer Media Group in Antigua. He joined the company in 2012 after working there in 2008 and during the summers while at University. Kyle has a bachelor’s in Economics and Finance from the Midwestern State University.

 

 

The Top 5 Things Nobody Told You on How to Get a Job

Getting a job can be difficult, frustrating and challenging. After finishing school, many young people find it tough to successfully gain employment and become self sufficient. With the worldwide economic downturn, finding a job has become even more difficult. In fact, it is estimated that the number of young people looking for jobs has increased by 30% since 2007. (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21576663-number-young-people-out-work-globally-nearly-big-population-united)

Quite often, information is shared on how to get a job. Good grades, dressing well, or interview preparation are all given as ways in which to quickly and easily land your “dream job.” However, in many instances, this information simply does not help. Many young people do well in school yet never manage to get a reply to their job application or simply can’t find a job suited to them.

Instead of giving the same old suggestions, here are the top 5 things that nobody ever told you on how to land a job.

  1. Leverage your connections – One stunning figure that shows the power of networking is the fact that 80% of jobs are awarded by networking. http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/80-of-today-s-jobs-are-landed-through-networking. In other words, you are FAR more likely to get a job by using your personal connections than by writing applications to companies where nobody knows you. Use your friends, family, and acquaintances who can suggest new job opportunities and recommend you to the HR or other relevant manager
  2. You won’t start off in your dream job – After finishing my degree, my very first job was as a tour guide. My second job was an administrative assistant. Not very relevant for someone with a psychology degree, but I learned a lot and was eventually able to land the position I had been waiting for.  While you may be holding out for that “dream job” the truth is that VERY few people attain the position that they desired straight out of school. Those who do are usually in high demand areas (such as teachers) or have great network connections. Instead of waiting for that “dream job” to fall into your lap, take up other employment until you do get a chance to work for your dream company.
  3. Volunteer – Working as a volunteer is a great way to get a job, for a number of reasons. Firstly, volunteering, especially if you have served in an executive capacity looks great on your CV and can quickly differentiate you from other candidates. It’s actually quite easy to land on an executive board of an organization, or serve within an important position. Holding one of these positions you as a leader and gives employers a great incentive to hire you. Not only that, but  volunteering is also a great way to network and meet people who may have a job opportunity available, and sometimes job opportunities present themselves through the organization that you are already volunteering for.
  4. It’s a numbers game – The more jobs that you apply for, the higher the likelihood of you getting a job. Instead of applying for 5 jobs and waiting for a reply, you should always be on the lookout for new opportunities. While unemployed, you should make looking for a job your own personal job. Make sure that you go the extra mile and contact as many places as possible, which will raise the likelihood of getting a job.
  5. Establish a personal connection – People love a personal connection. A letter from a stranger to the bank manager will probably either go straight to the file or into the trash. However, a personal meeting with him will almost guarantee that you will have a better chance of landing a job than another random application letter. Instead of sending email or hard copy letters, ask for a few minutes of the time of the HR or other hiring manager and make your pitch. Go to seminars and workshops that will contain managers or other people important to the types of organization you would like to work for. Make sure that the people who are responsible for hiring know your name and your face, and you will have a much better chance of being rewarded with a job!

Getting a job in a tough economic climate isn’t easy, but there are ways to increase your chances of getting one. Follow these simple tips, and you’re almost sure to be working at your dream job in no time!

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Daryl George is a youth activist and freelance writer living in Antigua and Barbuda. Currently employed as a youth officer, he also serves on the board of directors of the Environmental Awareness Group, a leading Caribbean conservation group. In his spare time, he is actively involved in cricket and EAG activities.