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Should I learn a trade or get a degree?

Local colleges and institutes offer a wide range of technical skills which are open to Jamaicans who wish to pursue a career in the trades as an addition or alternative to university certification.

Can one enjoy similar career benefits from training in the trades - including plumbing, drafting and building technology, electrical, welding, hydroponics and computer repair - as opposed to collecting a degree?

Erica Williams, head of the Career Resources and Career Development Services Department (CDSD), HEART Trust/NTA states that where students in technical or trade skills are prepared to combine entrepreneurial strategies to they can earn on par or more than the university graduate.

The last tracer study done by HEART-NTA in 2008, tracking employment among its graduates showed that gross weekly income earned by respondents who were employed at the time of the survey showed that of those who were self employed, the average income earned was $8,502 and was slightly higher when compared to the income earned by persons employed by someone $7,987.
Williams feels that this can even be higher with the right approach to business.

"You can make a living from skilled areas", Williams, noting that states that the mix of business acumen with technical skills is potential high income earnings.

"In the area of cosmetology, while perming or creaming has seen reduced demand, many more areas have emerged including braids, extensions and other services which are so much in demand that the skilled cosmetologist does not need to open a shop. She can offer to go to clients privately building up a substantial clientele."

In the area of catering, the career development officer notes that chefs can go into the business of running concession, including canteens. A chef can become a concessionaire, especially in partnership with others who are trained in his field.'

He or she can also take up the option of working o several properties, doing one during the day and the other on evenings or weekends. In general trained chefs should be on he lookout for the opportunity to run canteens and similar projects.

Williams stated that auto mechanics trained by JAGAS were in high demand and had the potential of earning full-time income form a place of employment as well as money from clients of their own.

She noted that skilled workers should consider coming together with others in their field to bid on projects in their field

The career development officer noted that while construction has contracted and workers have lost jobs in bauxite, opportunities existed for the skilled worker who was prepared to hang his own shingle and market his skills.

They also gain employment outside of Jamaica in both the United States and Canadian work programmes. Locally, one may also need to migrate in order to get jobs as the demand might be in another parish


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