Tufton notes post-COVID change in work attitude among Jamaicans
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said that a scarcity of skilled labour in some sectors locally can be linked to a redefining of how people are now viewing work.
While industry leaders have reported that they have recovered from the virtual shutdown of the economy in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, government statistics show that more than 750,000 Jamaicans remain outside the formal labour force.
According to Tufton, who was speaking at last weekend’s opening of the Omega Medical Hospital in Negril, Westmoreland, the way in which people view work and how they want to work are among the factors contributing to the current shortage of skilled labour.
“As humanity, we have come to terms with our mortality far more, post-COVID than pre-COVID, where we’ve begun to start questioning how we live, how we work, how much time we spent with loved ones and friends,” said Tufton. “It’s almost as if we are showing a lot more respect to our fragility.”
He continued: “ ... This scarcity of skills is partly due to economic activity, but also partly due to a redefinition of how people want to work, and when they work, where they work and how much time they take off, so it is almost a recalibration or reconfiguration of how society is structured.”
The minister said that the current attitude towards work, whether voluntarily or involuntary, must be viewed within the parameter of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a profound impact on lives.
In a bid to more deeply understand the new trends, Tufton said that he is planning to roll out a new initiative to ensure that people can know their health status through early screening to prevent lifestyle-related diseases. The details of this programme will be announced during his Sectoral Debate presentation in another two months.
“If you assess the profile of those who have passed and, indeed, the profile of our population, most of us have compromised immune systems in a relatively short period of our lives – hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers of one form or another,” said Tufton.
“... I am going to be launching a programme that is going to be big on screening, and we are going to partner both with the private sector and civil society to try and help Jamaicans to know what their health status is because that is the starting point of adjusting in order to manage,” added Tufton.
He urged Jamaicans to pay closer attention to their health status.
“Don’t wait until you fall down with a stroke to know that your cholesterol level is out of whack,” said Tufton. “If we have truly learnt the lessons from COVID, we really ought to believe and buy-in and create a gentler society where we become our brother’s keeper, reckoning that on our own, we are vulnerable, and as public sector, we are vulnerable, and as private sector for profit alone, it is going to be vulnerable,” added Tufton.