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"A new underclass has two choices: unemployed or underemployed"
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"A new underclass has two choices: unemployed or underemployed"

Amid the current economic crisis, some well-educated young professionals are removing qualifications from their resumes due to fears that they may be over-qualified for available jobs. Shanika Roberts, 23, from Barbados, reports.

“Children go to school and learn well otherwise you gone catch bear hell.” These words are a part of an iconic calypso song which promotes the values of a good education.

In Barbados, the plight of the uneducated or the undereducated has taken precedence for many years. Programmes to offer training courses and find jobs for them operate with the assumption that those with education will be able to find their place.

Today the global economic recession has created a new educated underclass of overeducated young. In Barbados there is a fundamental truth: our only real resources are our people, and so our education system through primary and secondary has been free, while the tertiary level has been highly subsidized.

This has allowed a country with no natural resources to be an important player in regional events. It has also created high levels of educated citizens, each armed with one or two university degrees in search of the promised better job and better life.

Finding themselves handicapped by the very education that they were encouraged to gain, the overeducated young are often presented with a ‘catch 22’ scenario. They are told they do not have the necessary experience for the jobs in their chosen careers and are forced to seek jobs below their skill set, however they are then told they are over-qualified and are at a disadvantage when competing with undereducated people.

Being educated has become a bad thing on resumes, with the overeducated young having to remove qualifications and essentially ‘dumb down’ to gain positions, due to employers fears that the overeducated will leave quickly. This has left this a new underclass with only two choices, to be unemployed or underemployed.

The Barbados government has made some small attempts to assist, by making entrepreneurship programs a key focus and making small business loans and classes accessible to all. Many of the overeducated young have taken advantage of these programs, and the prevalence of small businesses has grown considerably.

The overeducated class has also created its own methods of coping such as the ‘Educated Parro’ group on Facebook, started by graduates who are unemployed or underemployed. The page offers job hunting advice and ideas for getting through the holidays on limited funds. It also serves as a forum for advertising small businesses. In short it serves as a forum for encouragement through these rough economic times.

While it appears it is imperative that the over educated young must either remain underemployed, unemployed or find a method of self-employment, it is necessary that the government does not leave them on the sidelines during this economic recession.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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