UNEMPLOYMENT IN MARSHALLS POINTS TO SCHOOLS

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Jan. 13) - Between 600 and 1,000 young people are coming into the job market in the Marshall Islands every year, but employment has been static at about 10,000 for the past 10 years, according to a labor market and national training report released Thursday.

Produced by the government’s National Training Council, the report says that "this lack of labor market growth in employment during a period when huge sums were spent on stimulating economic growth indicates that it will be difficult to find the new jobs or small business opportunities necessary to employ those people entering the labor force."

The report says that "increasing education and training levels is essential to improving the employability of Marshallese citizens."

The number of non-Marshallese workers in the Marshall Islands has nearly tripled since 1995, going from 297 to 812 in 2001, the report said. While some of this may be due to improved record keeping, "the trend suggests that there is a significant increase in demand for skilled employees in the Marshall Islands," the report said.

"Data on non-resident workers shows that employers expect to import people to take up skilled work in professional and managerial occupations," the report says. "Increasing education and training levels increases the potential for Marshallese citizens to fill these jobs."

One problem is that the lack of public high schools limits the pool of young people with necessary training and qualifications to take up skilled work, the report said. There are only three public high schools in the country, which provide space for barely one-third of graduating eighth graders. Private schools educate more high school students than do the government schools. The lack of high school classroom space "reduces the Marshall Islands’ capacity to produce students able to enroll in associate or bachelor degrees," the report says.

Local employers identified three layers of training needs for the modern economy:

• New skills and attitudes for young people just entering the job market.

• Increasing the skill levels ("capacity building") for current workers.

• Training for people in nine specific occupations needed to expand the labor market in this central Pacific nation of 55,000. These areas include: teachers, information and communication, nurses and other medical positions, tourism and traditional cultural skills, small business managers and entrepreneurs, fisheries, farmers and home gardeners, renewable energy and maintenance

January 13, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com 

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