Jamaican youths aspire to be more than Gaza or Gully

Goals and aspirations of the Jamaican Youth

Jamaican youths have high ideals and aspirations of becoming decent citizens of the society. The elements of poverty have led to crime, violence, and despair among thousands of Jamaican youths.

Jamaican youths aspire to be more than Gaza or Gully

Photo courtesy – youthjamaica.com

Their association with gangs has caused a decline in the benefits of societal norms and has created an environment which breeds little good.

Jamaican Youths aspire to be more than Gaza or Gully or any other gang that exists. The vast majority of these youths want to be productive and successful people. However, their chances are stymied when the political system does more talking about helping them rather than functioning to help them.

Leaders of government and the private sector must design ways in which to help the disenfranchised youths of Jamaica. These leaders must institute and implement systems which will help these youths become lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants, teachers, agronomists, scientists, or any other professional career which is embedded in their brains.

In a recent survey reported by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica surrounding demographic characteristics Jamaican youth largely desired career and personal success.

When asked, the majority (39.5 per cent) of Jamaican youth indicated that their main goal in life was to be successful at work. “Having a good family” was the second most popular goal (21.4 per cent), while “making a contribution to society” was the third (14.0 per cent) most popular goal.

Youth enrolled in school or training were asked to indicate their ideal job. The majority of in-school youth aspired to become “Professionals” (54.3 per cent), “Service workers and shop and market sales workers” (13.0 per cent), “Technicians and associates professional clerks” (10.3 per cent) and “Legislators, senior officials and managers” (9.6 per cent). Most young students also indicated that they would ideally like to work for the “Government” (51.2 per cent), themselves (26.5 per cent), and for a “Private Company” (17.7 per cent).

According to the World Bank report:

For decades, Jamaica has struggled with low growth, high public debt and many external shocks that further weakened the economy. Over the last 30 years, real per capita GDP increased at an average of just one percent per year, making Jamaica one of the slowest growing developing countries in the world. The country accumulated public debt stood around 140% of GDP.

To reverse this trajectory, the Government of Jamaica embarked on a comprehensive and ambitious program of reforms for which it has garnered national and international support:  a four-year Extended Fund Facility (EFF)  by  the International Monetary Fund (IMF) providing  a  support package of US$ 932 million;  World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) programs providing  US$ 510 million each to facilitate the GOJ’s economic reform agenda to stabilize the economy, reduce debt and create the conditions for growth and resilience. In addition, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) will continue to support private sector development.

The reform program is beginning to bear fruit: Institutional reforms and measures to improve the environment for the private sector have started to restore confidence in the Jamaican economy. Jamaica jumped 27 places to 58 among 189 economies worldwide in the 2015 Doing Business ranking. The country’s credit rating has improved and the Government has raised US$2 billion in the international capital market in 2015 at a time when investors were moving out of emerging market debt. Debt has also gone down from to 126% of GDP.

In 2015 the unemployment rate in Jamaica is estimated at 13.5 percent (October 2015, Statistical Institute of Jamaica). The unemployment rates for youth is considerably higher at 30.3 percent, and the average unemployment rate for women is double that for men: 18.5 versus 9.3 percent. However, Jamaica’s skilled labor force and strong social and governance indicators remain its key assets.

Read complete overview here

Jamaica Youth Unemployment Rate 

Jamaican youths aspire to be more than Gaza or Gully

Youth Unemployment Rate in Jamaica decreased to 28.20 percent in the third quarter of 2015 from 31.60 percent in the second quarter of 2015. Youth Unemployment Rate in Jamaica averaged 32.17 percent from 2012 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 37 percent in the second quarter of 2013 and a record low of 28.20 percent in the third quarter of 2015. Youth Unemployment Rate in Jamaica is reported by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/jamaica/youth-unemployment-rate


Dominant social factors which negatively impact the economy:


The poverty rate in Jamaica stands at 16.5%, having increased in the past two years. The result is that a larger proportion of the population now falls below the poverty line and inequality has risen, in many instances heightening vulnerabilities of the most-at-risk populations, including women and young people.

Closely linked to poverty is the unemployment rate, where 14.8% of women are unemployed in comparison to 8.6% of men.

Teenage pregnancies

Jamaican youths aspire to be more than Gaza or Gully

Photo courtesy – Jamaica Gleaner

The adolescent fertility rate has declined over the past 5 years and now stands at 72/1000. This is still fairly high, and the fact that 18% of all births in Jamaica occur to teenagers is quite alarming. One major challenge is the fact that teen-mothers often drop out of the school system, and have little support from the ‘baby-fathers’ in bringing up their children. This has a double negative effect – on the young mother, who has her opportunities for development truncated; and on the child, who will not receive the benefits that a better-equipped mother could provide in terms of parenting.

In the area of adolescent sexual and reproductive health, there are also inconsistencies between policies and the legal framework which impede access to reproductive health services for young people.  This has been linked to unwanted or unintended adolescent pregnancies among young people as well as STI and HIV infection.

Additionally, the absence of youth-friendly health services and the cultural barriers to effectively promoting comprehensive sexuality education further impedes young people’s access to reproductive health services.

Youth and Violence

Homicidal violence, 77% by the gun, is a leading social problem; it is male on male, youth on youth, poor on poor. Of the youth, aged 15–24, 26.2% males and 7.9% females are illiterate. Unattached youth, those who are not in school, unemployed and not participating in any training course, comprise roughly 30% of the total youth population. About a quarter of unattached youths had attained only a grade 9 level or less of education. Their future prospects for productive and satisfying lives are thus limited. This also makes female youth vulnerable to sexual exploitation and adolescent pregnancy and puts male youth in an extremely vulnerable position, which might lead to participation in criminal gangs.

The 2008 Reproductive Health Survey also indicates that approximately 20% of women ages 15-49 had experienced sexual violence. This figure reflects only reported cases, and it is estimated that the actual incidence is significantly higher.


Migration continues to impact Jamaica’s population growth and structure as well as other socio-economic factors.  Some estimates indicate that as many Jamaicans may currently be living outside the country as those who are living within it. The emigration of skilled persons has had tremendous impact on the workforce, most notably in the social sectors such as health and education where there is a shortage of qualified nurses and teachers.

While remittances provide a tremendous source of foreign exchange for Jamaica, migration, if not adequately addressed, can undermine the country’s ability to achieve sustainable development.

The underserved youths of Jamaica especially, those who live in poor neighborhoods, must not been seen as relics or cast-offs of society. It is the responsibility of the government, leaders in the private sector, social scientists, and financial czars to ensure that Jamaica’s progress include all Jamaicans and the youth of Jamaica must be an integral part of the journey.

Sources: World Bank,UNFPA the Caribbean, Statistical Institute of Jamaica

Karl A.Haughton



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