Help for job seekers

The finance committee heard Friday about new developments in Cayman’s labour sector.

Department of Employment Relations Director Walling Whittaker explained a new initiative the DER is undertaking to help job seekers though a new National Human Resources Management Information System.

‘The Department recognizes that there is a need collect, analyse, generate and publish information on the workings of the labour market,’ Mr. Whittaker said.

The system will provide job seekers with accurate information about needs, gaps and surpluses in the labour market.

He said the system would use data collected on registered job seekers, vacancies and university and high school graduates and combine it with studies done on workforce skills assessment, an occupational wage survey, a small business needs survey and a tracer study of high school graduates.

However, while it will be able to provide information on the job market itself, the system is not intended to be a database of all workers in the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Whittaker said that it was likely that, in collaboration with the Immigration Department, a workforce database could be produced in the near future and he was very interested in pursuing it.

Education, Training, Employment Youth Sports and Culture Minister Alden McLaughlin told committee members that the Employment Relations Department will be undergoing a technical review in order to improve services and accessibility and to review and update the employment relations law.

Cayman’s unemployment rate sits at 3.6 per cent. At the same time, out of 1,100 job seekers using the Department’s services last year, only 25 per cent were successful in gaining employment.

Mr. Whittaker said that this shows clients need help improving their skills and marketability, but the Job Placement Unit is not adequately meeting these needs.

‘I’m sure that once the department has more support capabilities, the hire rate will go up,’ he said. This includes hiring another job placement officer and a career counsellor. He also hopes to improve the relationship with the employers using the Department’s services to hire new staff.

Committee members also heard that that despite a backlog caused in part by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and other commitments held by tribunal members, all of whom are volunteers, the gaps in appointing labour tribunals in the case of disputes are now taken care of.

The Department is moving toward streamlining the process to help cases get resolved more quickly.

Minister McLaughlin suggested that the Ministry is hoping to create a new position for a Commissioner of Labour whose full time responsibility will be the labour tribunals.