photo: Pixabay

THE BOTTOM – An increasing amount of graduates and undergraduates are returning to Saba with the hope of finding a job within their study, to then have to leave and find work elsewhere. Positions are quickly being filled by non-locals and limited available offers, leaving local undergraduates with no chance to build experience within their field.

“Finding a job on Saba will take awhile due to my chosen major in Psychology. I now work at a local supermarket and I have to find a job outside of Saba, in order to build experience within my degree”, says Gideon Wilson, temporarily part time truck driver and stock clerk.

Difficult study preparations
The process of applying for studiefinanciering (Dutch study finance) on Saba goes through RCN (Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland). Before and after approvals for schools abroad are a problem for undergraduates on the island.

Sarah Caines, a cashier at Big Rock Supermarket, said, “Psychology was my initial major. However, studiefinanciering did not fund the major at the school I chose, forcing me to gain an Associate’s in Arts and Science. I’m currently furthering my studies for a Bachelor’s in Psychology minoring in Social Work at another school, for a better guarantee of a position on the island.” Until then, she continues to work multiple job tasks such as checkouts, shelf stocking and pay outs.

Wilson did get approval: “Studiefinanciering was a bit difficult at first with the different requirements but in the end, I’ve received funding.”

Island-Wide survey
On August 8 2016, the first Student Summit with the local government and the Saban student body who studied abroad was held on Saba. Creating a labor market survey which can indicate job availabilities on the island was a key subject of the debate, but no progress has been made.

Bodna Guerrier, an unemployed Associate’s degree holder, continues to seek employment says: “potential students and government should survey majors that are needed versus what is not needed, to better find vacancies for everyone who wants to return.” After her medical studies, she wants to return to Saba to work as a Pediatrician.

Left Sarah Caines and Right Chesney Thielman at their 2017 Graduation at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa US. Photo: Sarah Caines

Caines agrees: “Local government should create a system to collect graduates’ information beforehand, to best fill in positions on the island instead of persons from the Netherlands. Graduates with at least a Bachelor’s degree and working under local government, should receive funding to continue their studies online, rather than to be forced to leave.”

Last year, Saba approximately achieved eleven graduates, holders of Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees.“Persons with an Associate’s degree are limited on the island due to the requirements of open vacancies. Local government should double check in those requirements to ensure that graduates can come back to work”, says Caines.

Wilson still encourages: “Potential students should study what they’re interested in, their passion. Keep your eyes on the prize and don’t let anyone steer your future.”