JO - 800 Jamaicans to take up warehouse jobs in America. But work considered difficult by some.
800 Jamaicans to take up warehouse jobs in America
But work considered difficult by some
Career & Education
Sunday, November 11, 2007
HUNDREDS of young Jamaicans, most with limited marketable skills, have been turning up at employment fairs in Kingston over the last three months, hoping to be selected to go to the United States to take up jobs that could earn them as much as $90,000 monthly.
But these jobs are not for everyone, as they require workers to be on their feet for up to 10 hours per day, carrying out the basic task of packing DVDs into boxes for delivery.
JOB HUNT. Desperate for work, hundreds of Jamaicans are seen here as they listen attentively to a Jobquest International representative at the Altamont Court Hotel recently. The job hunters were getting the details of the requirements for the warehouse job openings in the United States. (Photo: Luke Douglas)
The job contracts, which are of eight months duration, have been secured by Jobquest International Ltd, a company founded by Jamaican Christine Kelly and which sources employment in several fields in the USA.
"The contract is for eight months in Huntsville, Alabama, starting in October," Kelly told the Sunday Observer last month. "We have processed 300 persons at the US Embassy already and most of those have gone off (to the US)."
The effervescent Kelly and her staff were kept busy at a recent employment fair at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston. Approximately 700 young people, armed with résumés and passports, flocked to the venue for interviews conducted by a team of 10 from Jobquest.
The prospective employees were first briefed by a representative of the company about the job description, pay and conditions, before being invited for individual interviews.
"This job does not require you to have any subjects or work experience. It's basically packing DVDs in boxes, and anyone can do that. But you must have the right work attitude, be able to communicate well, and get along with other people. Being a team player enhances productivity," noted Kelly.
Most of the hopefuls on hand appeared to be in their early twenties, with females slightly outnumbering males. Age is an important factor for the applicants, but gender doesn't matter, Jobquest's representatives said.
"We're looking to people from 18 to 40, but we may go up to 45 if persons are willing to pay extra for insurance," Kelly said.
Other employers, such as casino operators, may ask for persons not older than 30, she noted.
One unhappy female, who said she was 22 years old, expressed displeasure at being turned down because she revealed that she had a two-year-old child.
"Mi nuh get through because they said they are not taking anyone with children under five," she told Sunday Observer. "I told them the child is with her father and my mother, and them still nuh tek me."However, Kelly said that while Jobquest preferred people without small children, there was no strict rule.
"Maybe she did not come across well in her interview," she suggested. "But we have to be concerned about the children left behind. If someone can't tell me clearly who they are going to leave their kids with, I am not going to take them. "We've had people leave their kids with the grandparents and they don't come back. If you are going to leave your kids in harm's way, what's the point of you going?" Compared to similar employment in Jamaica, the Alabama jobs seem to be a good deal.
"The minimum wage in Alabama is US$6.75 per hour, but the employer, Cinram Inc, pays US$8.00 and you are guaranteed at least 10 hours overtime per week at US$10 per hour," said Kelly.
But this impressive package comes at a price, as the job is gruelling.
"It's a lot of standing, its like in the army," Kelly chucked. "You work 12 hours per day, with two breaks, plus only half an hour for lunch." Don't expect posh accommodation as the living quarters are very basic, she noted.
Applicants must have a valid passport and provide a résumé, plus undergo a medical and have a clean police record. There is also US$1,400 including equipment, legal and filing fees.
Kelly said there have been many success stories from this type of job."People have built houses, sent their children to university, and started small businesses from this. "It's a good opportunity for young people, not only to work but to experience a different culture. Travel helps to change people and give them a different outlook on life," she said.
Jobquest also sources employment for Jamaicans in other fields including au pair (nannies) for females aged 18 to 26 to look after children for American families; teachers, and practical nurses.
Registered and licensed with the Ministry of Labour since 2002, Jobquest said it enjoys an excellent relationship with the government.