Today’s Editorial January 13: Business conference a timely affair

Anyone who has concerns about companies doing business in the Cayman Islands outsourcing their work to other countries would do well to attend the third Fidelity Business Outlook conference next Wednesday.

Speakers at the conference will focus on outsourcing, offshoring and the web-enabled global workforce and the impact these trends will have on small island nations.

At issue is the low cost and efficiency of outsourced labour.

Workers in India and China are already reaping the benefits of outsourcing.

By Cayman standards workers in those and similar countries are poorly paid, making it cheaper for foreign companies to set up shop there.

Caymanians and those who live in the Cayman Islands should be concerned.

Some businesses in the Cayman Islands already outsource.

The reason: it’s cheaper to outsource a job that can be done out of office to an expert who will take less pay than an employee on their own turf.

Too, the demand for professional skills in the Cayman Islands far outstrips the supply, making it necessary for some companies to hire workers from other countries, bring them here and pay work permit fees, medical insurance and pensions.

Government could put in place legislation that would force companies to keep a certain amount of work in the Cayman Islands, but that has the potential of scaring off companies willing to make an investment here.

One answer to help in keeping Cayman protected from outsourcing and offshoring is to make sure Caymanians are properly trained in the professional skills that are needed by companies here.

That’s where the role of the ex-pat brought in to do a professional job comes in. They should be training Caymanians in those jobs.

It’s also a role of the education system; to determine from businesses what specific skills are needed and teach those skills in schools. Those responsible for teaching higher education should also design their curricula around the needs of companies doing business in the Cayman Islands.

Hopefully more answers will come from the speakers and discussion at Wednesday’s Business Outlook conference.

The conference is timely and those concerned about Cayman’s economic future are encouraged to attend.