If you build it, you will pay.
That’s the word from the Cayman Contractor’s Association.
Construction costs are skyrocketing for a variety of reasons.
Just as there is a higher demand for foodstuffs throughout the world, there is a worldwide need for construction materials.
Places far away from the Cayman Islands are developing at an astonishing rate.
We also see more development here at home.
Part of the reason for the skyrocketing cost of construction is that demand on equipment and materials.
There’s not much we, as a small country, can do about that.
But we can do something about the labour issue, which also contributes to higher prices.
We need to have a mechanism to attract and retain skilled workers from other parts of the world.
And once they are here, we need to have in place a mechanism to use them to train Caymanians in skilled labour.
Every labourer who comes to the Cayman Islands should have to participate in some type of apprenticeship programme to train their skills to others.
It’s getting more and more difficult to attract foreign labour because people are finding that they can make as much money or more in countries like Canada and in Western Europe where the cost of living isn’t as high as it is in Cayman.
By rights anyone coming to this country on a work permit should already be training a Caymanian.
While there are courses at the University College of the Cayman Islands, we have yet to, as a country, develop a true vocational education centre where young Caymanians can learn the trades of plumbing, electricity, carpentry and the like.
To that end we are short changing a lot of young people who would prefer to work with their hands rather than go into higher education.
A young person who learns a trade can do very well for themselves in this economy and others throughout the world.
A qualified mason, electrician, plumber or carpenter can pretty much write their own ticket to land lucrative jobs in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere.
We implore construction businesses in the Cayman Islands to come up with an apprenticeship programme to train our youngsters in these special skills. Once they learn these trades, the businesses won’t have to worry about work permits; they’ll be able to hire qualified Caymanians.
We also hope that the Government comes up with a vocational education programme for its high schools.
Construction prices are going up and while we can’t control the world market, we can teach our own the skills needed here to help keep those costs down.