August 09, 2012
Local business leaders are responding to the country's consistently poor numbers in regards to higher education, noting that this makes the hiring process for companies more difficult.
During a recent labor survey, it was revealed that only 30 percent of the working population has completed some form of higher education.
"The problem is that Bahamians have figured out, or think that they have figured out, that they can make a decent living without having a college degree," said Dionisio D'Aguilar, the president of Superwash. "So, as a result, it is not in our DNA to think that a tertiary level education is important.
"You can have people at Atlantis making close to $40,000 a year and barely graduated from high school. It doesn't drive home the fact that you need a tertiary education in order for you to have a decent living. Unfortunately, education is not a priority in many homes in this country because it is not seen as important."
According to the survey, approximately 190,075 Bahamians make up the workforce, which includes both employed and unemployed people.
The report indicated that only about 57,530 of those Bahamians completed college or some other form of tertiary education.
Simmone Bowe-Mullings, president of Horizons Development Group, revealed to Guardian Business that employers are looking to hire staff that can perform and remain current with technology and best practices.
If a person doesn't fall into that category, Bowe-Mullings noted that it can become quite taxing for the employers to get employees up to a level of acceptable performance.
"It can be found that usually persons with higher education or education at all tend to perform better as it relates to communications skills, processing and analyzing information, being innovative and resourceful in terms of finding solutions," she shared.
However, both Bowe-Mullings and D'Aguilar agreed that completing a tertiary level education doesn't guarantee that a person will be successful employee, but they admitted it is attractive to employers.
"This doesn't mean that persons without an education cannot do those things or have those skills innately, but what education does is that it prepares you how to learn and process information, to seek options and solutions," she said.
D'Aguilar said higher education can demonstrate one's discipline for work.
Bowe-Mullings added that employers are looking for someone who can hit the ground running.
"If you already come with a certain skills set, then it is much easier for the employer to get the results they're looking for.
"In today's times and economic situations, funds for training and development are less than they would have been. It really depends on the person and the job market. If it is difficult to find persons, then they (employers) will probably opt for the person who has some education and appears to be trainable, who has a good attitude, and then they will invest that time."
Additionally, the survey revealed that the majority of working Bahamians (53 percent) have only completed high school.
Two percent of the workforce had no schooling at all, while six percent went as far as primary school.
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