A government backbench MLA wants a comprehensive manpower survey done on the work force to determine whether there are any Caymanians missing out on job opportunities.
‘We can tell you exactly how many expatriate workers are on this island and what they do,’ George Town MLA Alfonso Wright said. ‘But we have no way of knowing about Caymanian workers.’
Mr. Wright plans to make a private member’s motion in the Legislative Assembly later this month requesting that government perform the survey.
The most recent data from the Economics and Statistics Office shows total unemployment in the Cayman Islands to be just under four per cent, with unemployment among Caymanians estimated at 5.7 per cent. Unemployment figures for expatriates are typically very low since they are not allowed to stay in Cayman without a job, or without an employed family member to support them.
Last year, the Department of Employment Relations began providing a job placement service for Caymanians who registered with the programme. But Mr. Wright said not everyone wants to register with the DER.
He said the manpower survey should include information about the person’s training and qualifications and could be used to identify both employable Caymanians and areas where students may want to focus their studies because there are currently few Caymanians to fill those jobs.
‘For instance, let’s say there are 12 architects on island, eight of them expatriates; four of them Caymanians,’ Mr. Wright said. ‘But we have a kid coming back from college who’s finished his training as an architect. We have to be mindful of that.’
Mr. Wright said his concern was partly for school leavers who are unable to get jobs in their chosen field in Cayman because those positions are already filled. He said he’s aware of some cases where people in that position have been forced to take other jobs outside their chosen profession and then have difficulty getting back into that field four or five years down the line.
With data available from a comprehensive, updated manpower survey, Mr. Wright said public schools could help direct kids to careers where there’s room for them to grow.
‘It’s the piece of the puzzle that we’ve been missing,’ he said.
Data gained by the survey could be shared, not only with the DER, but with the Immigration Department and the public school system, Mr. Wright said.
He acknowledged that collecting and maintaining accurate employment records for Caymanians would likely be a labour-intensive process, which would require some level of continuous expenditure. Any manpower survey done at one time would quickly become dated if records were not maintained, he said.
‘It will cost some money, but what do we want here? Do we want to take care of our people?’