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Service workers lead brain drain





Among Jamaicans who go abroad to live and work, service workers are classified as the largest group, followed by professionals, senior officials and technicians and those who work in craft and related areas.

For Canada, the largest number of emigrant workers are concentrated in the professional and service occupations but, with most migrants going to the United States, the category of services emerged as number, data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) indicates.

For the US, the largest group of classified workers was the service sector at 16.5 per cent followed by management, professional and related occupations at 4.5 per cent and sales and office occupations at 2.2 per cent in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The trend is however consistent with service at number one for all years in which data was provided.

Increasing numbers of Jamaicans have been gaining permanent residence in abroad since 2005 when 20,600 emigrated, followed by 27, 182 in 2006, 22, 666 in 2007 and 23,580 in 2008. In 2008, 19,911 Jamaicans migrated to the US, while 2,240 went to Canada and 1429 left for the UK. In 2007 the figures was 19,375 for the US, 2113 for Canada and 1,178 for the UK.

The category of professionals senior officials and technicians numbered 336 out of 2113 migrants to Canada in 2007. Next in line was service workers at 138 followed by craft and related trade worker at 107.

In 2007 as well, Canada featured increases in some occupational groups including skilled agricultural and fishery workers, clerks, and craft and related trade workers, the Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ) revealed.

Workers classified as service providers included technical sales specialists, insurance and real estate sales occupations and buyers, chefs and cooks, butchers and bakers, police officers and fire-fighters, technical occupations in personal service such as hairstylists and barbers and funeral directors and embalmers.

Also included in the service sector are sales representatives, retail salespersons and Sales Clerks, occupations in travel and accommodation clerks, tour and Recreational Guides and casino occupations, occupations in food and beverage service, occupations in protective service, childcare and Home Support Workers, aestheticians, electrologists and related occupations, pet groomers and animal care workers, cashiers, service sation attendants, grocery clerks and store shelf stockers, food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and cleaners.

The category of craft and related workers which took third place in numbers employed , according to the PIOJ, include miners, stone cutters and carvers, masons, bricklayers (construction), carpenters, building contractors, roofers, tillers, plumbers, painters and metal workers.
The PIOJ has no information on income earned by migrants or informal migration. According to Toni-Shae Freckleton acting manager of the Population Unit.

Social Policy at the PIOJ, income figures are not provided by overseas agencies and "all the agencies that track information on migration only do so for person who leave or arrive legally."
She adds as well that population unit will be unable to release more recent data until after the start of the 2010/2011 financial year and states, "I can tell you that there is no significant change in the trends observed in previous years."

Overall, the ESSJ data shows that the number of migrants who do not report an occupation was also high. The figure in 2007 was 62.6 per cent for Canada with those without occupation including non-workers, new workers, home-makers, students and retiree. In the US only 26.6 per cent reported an occupation.

*avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com
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