Many youth lack skills for jobs, says recruitment firm exec

THE head of a firm that screens applicants for a range of jobs across a number of sectors has expressed dismay at the number of young people who lack important soft skills for employment.

Fabian Brown, CEO of business management consultancy company Value Added Services (VAS), shared his conclusion with the Jamaica Observer after conducting four job fairs in collaboration with the HEART/NSTA Trust recently in Clarendon and St Catherine.

According to Brown, of the 500 applicants only 193 were recommended for hire at the line staff, supervisory, management, and executive levels in the retail, distributive trade, food, and hospitality sectors.

“VAS focuses on three core criteria for candidate selection: image, attitude and personality. These criteria are evaluated ahead of the talent and skill set of the candidates,” Brown told the Observer.

“The view is that a candidate’s character will often determine the level of productive value they will add through training, coaching, and development within the workplace. The goal of all job fairs and general recruitment exercise is to achieve a surplus of suitable candidates for placement in order to achieve greater efficiency with upcoming job vacancies. We looked for image, attitude and personality. Whilst we were not necessarily asking people to come in a suit and tie, we were conscious and concerned about persons not preparing themselves,” he said.

“Grooming was a big thing, as well as the extent to which persons would not have paid attention to personal hygiene. You realised their attitude… whenever they would have prepared themselves for an interview that went in a direction they did not expect, you could see how put off and how angry they got. As such, their body language and tone spoke volumes. The other part was how they operated in groups. You got an opportunity to see how comfortable they were sitting in a space engaged for two hours. You start to see how tolerant they are. Their true self came out,” he said.

Giving a breakdown of the number of available posts, Brown said the food and beverage companies for which he is conducting recruitment are seeking 40 people, 15 of which posts are in kitchens and as stewards; two posts are available in environmental health and safety; security management level needs one person; HR administration needs three people; there are six sales representative posts; eight customer services retail sector posts are avaialble; two marketing sales distribution centre posts are vacant; there are two driver posts in retail and distribution; seven bartender positions; 11 housekeeper posts; and five entertainment openings.

In addition, maintenance, at varying levels, needs seven people;, four posts are available for night auditors; four for hotel management; one post is available for an IT manager; 10 posts for merchandisers; seven posts for store clerks; 12 for cashiers; four posts for janitors; and four posts for landscapers.

He said companies reserve the right to further screen and determine the suitability of successful candidates within their operations at their own discretion.

Brown also disclosed that one of strategies that he and his team use is to start the interview once the applicants enter the property, be it walking or driving.

“Oftentimes when an individual sits at the table, even better than their best is displayed, but prior to getting to the table you get to see who the real person is. Does that mean the individual would not be selected based on that? Not necessarily, but those things often form part of the decision-making,” he said.

He encouraged young people to become the best marketers of themselves, saying that if and when they are asked to tell about themselves, they should feel comfortable speaking about the characteristics that make them who they are.

“Know what makes you upset and angry. If you are not a people person, be very conscious about the position you are going for. Do your research about the culture of the organisation you intend to join and see whether or not the culture of the organisation aligns and accords with your own,” he advised.

Rodain Richardson, the company’s business development executive, told the Observer that in 2023 VAS will emphasise training, recruitment, employability skills, development, growth and inspiration.

“In alignment with the country’s current efforts and thrust towards economic sustainability and growth, Value Added Services emphasises that human capital remains the most vulnerable asset to any organisation, and in fact the country at large,” he said.

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