400+ Caymanians put in jobs

But employers concerned about system

Since the inception of a new computer-based records system aimed at finding work for unemployed Caymanians more than 450 people have been placed in jobs in these islands.

But Department of Employment Relations Director Lonny Tibbetts said last week that some 866 people remain in the system and are awaiting job placement.

Figures from the Economics and Statistics office put the number of unemployed Caymanians at around 1,300 during a recent count, but Mr. Tibbetts said it’s possible not all of those people have registered with the DER.

Mr. Tibbetts made his comments during a Thursday luncheon with members of the Cayman Islands Tourism Association at the Grand Marriott Beach Resort.

Association members said they were using the DER database to locate Caymanian employees for jobs on a regular basis. However, not all who attended the luncheon were pleased at the performance of some of those people.

‘We want to hire Caymanians, it’s easier for us,’ said Iris Kehler, representing KFC. ‘We don’t have to go through immigration.’

‘The biggest problem I’m having is their enthusiasm,’ Ms Kehler said. ‘They’re just not interested. We set them up with a job, and they don’t show up.’

Another employer who attended the conference said he had gone through about nine DER-recommended employees in the past year who hadn’t worked out. He said he wanted to inform the department about the performance of these individuals, but didn’t want to ‘scandalise anyone’s good name.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the DER simply functions as a placement agency in that regard, matching qualified Caymanians with potential jobs; not as a quality assurance agency.

‘We are certainly not going to recommend anyone for the occupation of lifeguard who cannot swim,’ he said. ‘But it’s the one (person) I get hired that matters to me, not the nine that fail to show up. Even if someone is not entirely suitably qualified we’d like to see them considered.’

‘I’ve yet to find a policy that implements ambition,’ he joked.

During the luncheon, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson reminded employers that they are required to register with the DER and advised doing so can help cut down on work permit approval times.

If a job comes available, employers are required to consider local applicants; Caymanains, permanent residents, and contract/permit holders first before bringing someone in from outside the islands. If no one is available, the employer can inform DER and receive a waiver letter that can be included on a new application for a work permit.

Mr. Manderson said in some cases, work permit applications have been held up because immigration officers determined there was a suitable Caymanian who had applied for the position. If those applicants are handled first, and a waiver letter obtained, Mr. Manderson said the permit process will go more smoothly.

Mr. Tibbetts said DER was still working on its computer records system and had coded more than 5,000 jobs. Immigration officials can access the DER system to cross-check available jobs against suitable applicants. Mr. Manderson said his officers are now approving some work permit applications and can check these records as a matter of course.

‘We are going to be asking a lot more employees to register with the DER,’ Mr. Manderson told those who attended the tourism association luncheon.