Over the years, Employers Consultative Association (ECA) has been hearing a common problem among its employers - under-skilled labour force is very difficult to retain long-term.
There are many factors that lead to this very issue. Government programs; CEPEP and URP, offers lucrative salaries, making it extremely difficult for private companies to hire and retain critically needed under-skilled labour.
Finding a resolution to this problem will require a serious national evaluation, but, it still leads to the question, “Why are these individuals unwilling to work?” Trinidad and Tobago ranked 92nd out of 148 countries in labour market efficiency according the Global Competiveness Index in 2013-2014. Many employers attribute poor work ethic as the main factor in the efficiency of the country’s labour force, suggesting that the country is not providing the essential tools for our labour force to be prepared in the working world.
The ECA believes that the labour force needs to start to build on this foundation from a very young age. Employment is something we are trained to do, whether it is through education or experience. However, if one or both are missing, we are left in a situation with unwilling participants who lack the preparedness and maturity to appreciate and grow from such a job.
In understanding this development, a keener and more meticulous eye needs to be cast on our education system and the means by which we prepare our youths for hard work and meaningful work – work that serves a purpose to his/her organization . The school system must be fit for purpose relating to the real world.
Education prepares us for the future which is somewhat a wasted cause, as we cannot prepare for what we do not know. But, implementing essential workplace skills, soft skills, such as, communication, team-work and project management from an early age may prepare these individuals with the necessary traits needed to survive in the working world; the real world.
Programs dedicated more towards practical and less on theory also provide a greater understanding of time delegation and multi-tasking. Once learned, these skills can allow an individual a greater quality of life as they understand the ins and outs of completing a task without complications, but with understanding of how they contribute to the bigger picture.
The ECA believes that a conversation between employers and education officials can help redeem this situation so that schools are actively preparing their students for the job market that exists.