Work permit demographics not balanced

It is not in the interest of any country to have too high a percentage of any nationality dominating the work force, Chairman of the Work Permit Board David Ritch said this week.

He was speaking at a meeting at the Hyatt Hotel held by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association for its members to brief them on the Exempt and Permanent Residency aspects of the Immigration Law.

In answer to a question from the floor in which a hotelier spoke about her wish to hire Caribbean staff members to replace those whose permits have expired, Mr. Ritch said that 50 per cent of the entire work permit force is made up of Jamaicans (between 8,000 to 11,000 people).

Mr. Ritch said he was born in Jamaica, he has many relatives and friends there, he has nothing against the nationality personally, but this amount of people from one country is not in the interests of Cayman. He said this would be the case with any nationality that happened to dominate the workforce.

Mr. Ritch said that if the shoe was on the other foot and Jamaica was to have the same proportion of Caymanians, as Cayman now has Jamaicans – that would account for 800,000 Caymanians living and working in Jamaica. Although Mr. Ritch asserted that he would never attempt to speak on behalf of another Government, he did say he was ‘virtually certain’ they would not allow that.

‘Issues arise in trying to balance the demographics of the workforce and it’s in the interest of these islands to try to do that,’ he said.