The reality of the employment situation

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 - Jobs
Jul 4, 2017

The reality of the employment situation

At least nine percent of the population is jobless. The latest figures released by the Statistical Institute of Belize also show that as of April 2017, almost two thousand persons were unemployed. The labour force, however, has increased to one hundred and sixty-four thousand persons. But the most disturbing factor is that only one hundred and thirty-five persons have some level of formal education and far less only went as far as primary school. It is no wonder then that landing a job in Belize is extremely difficult.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Joblessness, despite the creation of employment opportunities in both public and private sectors, remains a perennial issue in Belize.  Every year around this time, there’s a significant number of graduates preparing to enter the workforce; students who have either just completed secondary or tertiary education.  There are also those who, for whatever reason, have decided not to return to school and will instead be looking for jobs in the months ahead.  In any of these categories, finding work will be a challenge.

 

Curwen Arthurs, Statistician, SIB

Curwen Arthurs

“Only the Belize and Stann Creek District had rates higher than the national rate of nine percent, with Stann Creek having the highest rate at thirteen point one percent and Belize having the second highest rate at ten point nine percent.”

 

The Belize District, as pointed out in the latest survey by the Statistical Institute of Belize, is second only to Stann Creek as far as unemployment is concerned.  Of interest is that the commercial capital is also located in the Belize District.  The sentiment, however, is that jobs are hard to come by.

 

Wallace Usher

Wallace Usher, Payroll Officer, Transparent BPO

“The reality is that the unemployment rate is very high.  No matter what the numbers are that they put out there, who feels it knows it.  And the amount of people looking for jobs, whether they are skilled workers or unskilled workers, the amount of work is not there for them.  So for these people who are graduating with all these degrees: high school, tertiary level, people coming back from studying, at the end of the day they’ll have to make up their mind.”

 

Wallace Usher is presently the payroll officer here at Transparent BPO, one of the fastest growing companies in Belize City.  It took him several jobs before landing this position.

 

Wallace Usher

“I have changed a couple jobs before, I mean I’ve been working from I was like seventeen.  I did have jobs that I don’t like, jobs that I never felt like was for me.  I had ups and downs.  The important thing is that you move on from there, you know, and you keep on going and focusing on your goals and what you want to achieve.”

 

It is that kind of determination that has also seen twenty-six-year-old Michael Young transition into his role as a vehicle technician at Belize Diesel and Equipment.  Having had a difficult time finding gainful employment seven years ago, the young auto mechanic decided that he would concentrate his efforts at excelling in that field of work once given an opportunity.

 

Michael Young

Michael Young, Technician, Belize Diesel & Equipment

“Before I start ah work ya soh, I mi deh, you know, bout and bout di look fi job and thing.  Couple interviews yo get, as I walk een, yo know, yo physique, yo accent, di way how yo look, dehn wah tell yo, you know.  Dehn noh even read yo application, dehn done read yo application and everything full out good and thing, but when dehn sih you the person, I noh know if dehn feel threatened or dehn feel intimidated or what, but at the time ih mek I mi feel bad, yo dig.”

 

Devon Bailey can certainly relate to that feeling.  Well known for his brushes with the law, he is considering flying the straight and narrow by returning to school or re-entering the workforce and legitimately providing for himself and his family.  Bailey is also very much aware of the hurdles that he will be facing in the process of doing so.

 

Devon Bailey, Resident, Antelope Street

Devon Bailey

“I mi apply fi job already, I mi gaan work da few spots eena my, you know, eena di past.  But due to eena di streets, like weh I tell yo, problem always come so like even though I mi have wahn lee job and thing, you know, things, my problem still mi di occur.  People still mi di look fi me, you know, so I cyant function right with people di look fi me and then I have to go go work.  I mi done apply fi wahn lee job already.”

 

His close friend, Rybo, believes that it’s a waste of time to go job hunting these days since he will be discriminated against because of his criminal past.

 

Ryan Davis

Ryan Davis, Resident, Antelope Street

“Well I noh really look fi no job like that, yoh undastand me, because then I done sih how di system treat ghetto youth and thing anytime dehn go look fi job.  Dehn either turn yo down if yo noh got this or noh got that and I noh got no papers.  I neva did graduate from fourth form.  I know I noh got no papers so I noh gwein go waste my time and go look fu no job and I know weh wahn be the result, yo undastand me, although dehn seh nothing beats a trial but a failure.”

 

For now he is resigned to hustling as a means of providing for himself, fully aware that his choice of livelihood is risky business.  It’s a station in life that Michael Young never wants to return to.

 

Michael Young

“Sometimes yo haftu do almost anything fi get wahn meal.  Sometimes yo do things weh yo really wouldn’t wahn do.  Sometimes yo do things weh you feel downgrading ah yourself and, but yo haffi do it, I mean yo haffi survive as wahn individual and before I mi get my job mein, ih mi haad.  Fi real, real talk, ih mi real haad. Nothing beats a try.  If yo noh try yo noh wahn know weh yo mek, yo know wahn know weh yo deh.  If yo stay weh yo deh, that da weh yo wahn deh.  If yo try yo might di deh or yo might deh somewhere else.  I mek wahn effort and I try and I deh weh I deh now and I noh deh weh I mi deh and I noh gwein back deh.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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