September 7, 2022
Jamaica has a mix of strategies that accepts the reality of migration and leverages this for national development. This was among the points that were brought out in a recent radio discussion with PIOJ Senior Director Social Policy, Planning and Research, Easton Williams.
Noting that the PIOJ provides analysis and data to address population issues, including migration, Mr Williams says that the country has a National Policy on International Migration, a draft diaspora policy; a draft immigration policy and instruments that address involuntary returned residents.
Among the strategies that are being pursued are recommendations to make it cheaper and easier to send remittances from overseas. Mr Williams also said that Jamaica had the opportunity to expand the country’s human resource capacity by offering training to more members of the disabled community. He also said that the country could focus on making tertiary education attractive to persons over the age of 30.
Mr Williams said, “In a free society like ours, impinging on people’s right to move creates legal questions. Jamaican professionals are migrating to countries that are experiencing critical population decline in the youth (15–24); and working age (15–64) populations. . . We have to influence citizens to stay, and even if they go, develop policies to attract them to serve the country. We have developed a database of skills in the diaspora who can come and work in the public sector, with higher margins of pay.”
Addressing why small developing nations like Jamaica are not facing a brain drain problem, Mr Williams said, “Teachers are not leaving Barbados, the Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands because their economies are quite developed, the GDP pay structures are different, and per capita income is quite high so their salaries are near to what they would be paid in the USA or Canada.”
The Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2021 published by the PIOJ gives the preliminary figure of a Net External Movement of 18,000 as the proxy for emigration, in 2021. The growth impetus of the economy was also derived from a 20.4 per cent real increase in remittance inflows to the country between 2020 and 2021. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is also supporting a project to modernize Jamaica’s remittance industry. The project will identify the best practices for Jamaica and specific legislation to be introduced.