KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting that the country’s unemployment rate has fallen to a new record low of 7.2 percent, based on the October 2019 Labour Force Survey. Director-General, Carol Coy, says this is 1.5 percentage points lower than the 8.7 percent out-turn for the corresponding period in 2018. It is also 0.6 percent below the 7.8 percent recorded in the April 2019 survey.
Additionally, Coy said the total number of persons in jobs as at October rose by 2.4 percent, compared to the corresponding period in 2018, speaking during STATIN’s quarterly media briefing at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston on Friday, January 17.
Coy said a breakdown of the data shows that the total number of unemployed persons as at October 2019 stood at 96,700, representing a 16.4 percent decline over the previous year; and noted that female unemployment fell by 16,000 persons to 53,400, while the total number of unemployed males decreased by 3,000 individuals to 43,300.
The director-general said the out-turn for females represented a 2.6 percentage point decline to 8.6 percent, while the rate for the males dipped from 6.4 percent to six percent. Additionally, the unemployment rate for youth aged 14 to 24 fell from 24.9 percent in October 2018 to 21.1 percent last year.
“The unemployment rate for male youth decreased by 3.6 percentage points to 18.2 percent in October 2019 [while] the unemployment rate for female youth declined by 3.9 percentage points to 24.7 percent,” she added. The number of persons in jobs as at October rose by 29,200 persons (2.4 percent) to 1,248,400, relative to the corresponding period in 2018. The overall labour force increased by 10,200 persons to 1,345,100.
Increased female employment, which rose by 18,600 persons to 565,600, was nearly twice that of males, which went up 10,600 to 682,800. The number of persons classified as being outside the labour force, as at October 2019, totalled 741,500, which was 10,800 (1.4 percent) fewer than the 752,300 recorded the previous year.
Meanwhile, Jamaica is looking to introduce a microscience approach to the teaching of science subjects supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), under the Japan-funded technical cooperation initiative, for the engagement of a consultant to deliver training in the microscience techniques and the provision of microscience kits.
Microscience education is a practical approach to experiencing science that was made popular under the UNESCO Global Microscience Project. The project contributes to capacity-building in areas where no laboratory facilities are available while enhancing the ability of institutions that have laboratories.
An estimated US$120,000 has been allocated for activities related to the support of teacher-training institutions, particularly as it relates to science education.
Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean to introduce this approach at the tertiary level, which allows teachers to use miniature, low-cost apparatus contained in microscience kits to teach science subjects.
Addressing a JIS Think Tank, January 14, International Microscience Consultant, Petal Jetoo, said that several teachers from The Mico University College; Bethlehem, Sam Sharpe, St Joseph’s, Shortwood, and Moneague teachers’ colleges; and the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), participated in a recent three-day residential workshop.
They were introduced to techniques on how they could infuse and design lesson plans that use microscience experiments. Acting chief education officer in the ministry of education, youth and information, Dr Kasan Troupe, in hailing the initiative, said that microscience is a practical approach to ensuring that students are competent in the sciences, even in cases where they do not have access to labs or such facilities are not fully equipped.
“We have been on a path to improve our labs and to upgrade our facilities. Until we get there, we have to find other strategies to make sure that our students are not denied of any experience to make sure that they are successful,” Dr Troupe said.
The Japan-funded technical cooperation initiative also supports the strengthening of early-childhood modernisation initiatives centred on innovation in teaching, development of curriculum and materials and regulation of the sector; teacher-training institutions in strengthening internal quality assurance and capacity-building for teacher education in numeracy and science, and provides technical support to the Division of School Services (DSS).
This article draws on JIS reports from Douglas McIntosh and Judith Hunter