Job Security: The Jamaican Labour Market During COVID-19

If human resources are the most important asset in an organization then the skills, knowledge, and innovation of a country’s people will certainly be among its greatest assets for growth.

Several studies have pointed to the need for smart and strategic investment in human capital to shaping industry and economy.

In this episode of Beyond the Crisis we look at how COVID-19 has provided an opportunity to re-examine the Jamaican labour market and avenues for reform.  We will also look at the needs of women in business. 

The issues of job security and protection, occupational safety, and legislative and policy changes to protect persons who may have lost or are in danger of losing their jobs as companies restructure their operations in light of a general downturn in business and financial losses- have all come to the fore. 

One area that can hardly be ignored by the government and industry leaders as discussions continue on plans for a strong economic recovery is labour market reform and what may be the new normal in the post-COVID-19 workplace which may now be a mix of virtual and in-office operations. 

We turned to the Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute at the University of the West Indies Mona Campus for a perspective.

For Hugh Danny Roberts, Head, Hugh Shearer Labour Studies Institute, changes in the Jamaican labour market are in the context of weakened production performance, wage reductions, job losses and economic contractions due to the global pandemic.

Roberts says COVID-19 provides the opportunity to take another look at the structure of the Jamaican economy in order to correct certain vulnerabilities.  

PART ONE

Figures from UN women show that the labour force participation rate for women between the ages of 25 and 54 is 63 percent compared to 94 percent for men.

In 2017 global unemployment rates for men stood at 5.5 percent but 6.2 percent for women.

The share of women in informal employment in developing countries was 4 point 6 percentage points higher than that of men.

Worldwide, 58 percent of women report having a bank account at a formal financial institution compared to 65 percent for men.

It is in this context that the concept of women’s economic empowerment becomes significant and remains relevant here in Jamaica.

That’s according to President of the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean Ethnie Miller Simpson.

PART TWO