Greetings - The Official Opening of the 2009 Career Exposition, March 5, 2009

March 05, 2009

Chairman and Student Services and Development Manager, Irvine Hall, Mr. Carlton Lowrie; Guest Speaker Mr. Courtney Lodge, Vice President, Branch Distribution at Victoria Mutual Building Society; Mrs. Merrit Henry, Student Services and Development Manager, Placement and Career Services; other distinguished guests and colleagues; ladies and gentlemen:  I am honoured to have been asked to bring greetings to the Official Opening of the 2009 Career Exposition. First, let me congratulate Mrs. Merrit Henry and the staff of Placement and Career Services for organizing the month-long Career Awareness activities which include the Career Exposition we are here to launch. I am pleased to extend on behalf of the University of the West Indies, a warm welcome to all here.

The goal of Career Awareness Month is to impress upon our students the need to plan for their careers and to make students more aware of the range of programmes that the Office of Placement and Career Services offers. During the course of the month, Placement and Career Services have held seminars on ‘Dress[ing] for Success’ and on ‘Employers’ Expectation of UWI Graduates’. Students have also been given the opportunity to practice their interview skills in mock interviews conducted by Human Resource Development professionals from public and private sector organizations. The Career Exposition, which we are opening this morning, is the highlight of the Placement and Career Services Career Awareness Month and features officials from top companies meeting and recruiting prospective UWI graduates. The fact that UWI produces the best tertiary level graduates trained to deal with the nuances of our Caribbean environment seems to produce a healthy competition at the Expo with company representatives vying against each other to land the best talent available. Every year, several students jumpstart their careers here and 2009 will be no different with more than 30 companies on hand conducting interviews and making job offers.

Our Career Exposition is not limited only to our students. Today, the first day of the expo, we are open to the public and invite students from other tertiary institutions as well as high schools to view the booths on display by the various organisations. The idea is to increase the awareness of our future job candidates to the wide range of careers available in the Jamaican job market, as well as to the changing needs of public and private sector organisations. The Expo also provides an opportunity for feedback which can help to guide the curriculum planning of secondary and tertiary educational institutions towards offering courses and programmes relevant to the changing knowledge requirements of the work force.   

The Career Exposition takes on added significance this year in light of the global economic down-turn and its effect on Jamaica’s labour market. The theme for this year’s Expo is apt, ‘Career Progression in a Global Recession’, as it hones in on the apprehension of students as it relates to gaining employment in a shrinking job market. The Expo will expose students to diverse and rewarding career opportunities. However, the emphasis of this year’s Career Exposition is on the employment opportunities in Jamaica as well as the global workplace. With the thrust of the Jamaican government seeking to have our nationals job-ready to take advantage of opportunities through the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, UWI students are at a distinct advantage. Our University, being a regional entity, has long established and accepted regional educational standards which are part of the criteria for free movement of labour throughout the region.  

The responsibility of any university is to create the opportunities for its students to gain employment so that they can move on to become positive change agents in society. We here at Mona have seen it as our mandate to conduct expositions such as this, in order to provide our students with these opportunities.  I would like to thank the all organisations that are a part of this year’s Expo - it is your participation that makes our expo a continued success. I am sure that the reciprocal relationship that we have developed will continue to be mutually beneficial.  

Thank you.