I thank you for allowing me space in your newspaper to respond to the article that appeared on the front page of another news paper on 14 January, titled DER: Unemployment figures ‘about average’ in Cayman.
First, it is about time that a director of labour exposes the truth about the employment situation in the Cayman Islands. Kudos, Mr. Tibbetts, for being honest and truthful with the Caymanian people. I am very proud to note that this gentleman has opened the eyes of many of us to see clearly the realty of the situation. His candid explanations of the true employment situation in this country were highlighted and for this I say thank you Mr. Lonny Tibbetts.
As a true Caymanian citizen, I feel that we must now take the stance that our people need to be educated more diligently with enhanced vocational skills. The need to educate our people to take up these jobs and secure employment is a growing need. However, we don’t have the vocational school in place, but hopefully this will be on the plans very soon so that we no longer disenfranchise our own people out of work in this arena.
Caymanians, I am calling on you to educate yourselves. This way your salary will be justified and you won’t have to compete with persons from other countries who will work for less, with more skills but live in slum conditions. This practice must be stopped, as we are seeing more and more pockets of shanty towns popping up by these foreign cheap labourers. Caymanians shouldn’t have to live 20 to a three-bedroom house to save because they cannot afford to live on $4.50 an hour. This is no way to live in your own country, especially one as small as ours.
The Government offers financial assistance to you when you enrol at the UCCI or ICCI educational facilities. I am encouraging you to go and sign up for courses that will help you to better yourselves.
Foreigners are coming into your country and working for less with more skills. This fact was hidden from us for so long, but thankfully we have an honest director of labour in place who is uncovering these issues. If you have the skills then the foreigner couldn’t take your job away or gain the promotion over you.
There are some facilities in place for you to obtain the training, although there is a growing need – more so now – for a vocational school and we must see this implemented very soon. I appeal to the Minister of Education to explore the vocational school and implement this in some of the plans for new schools as this will help the Caymanian people educate themselves and promote themselves and certainly retain their employment, versus having their jobs taken away by a foreigner.
Whilst, I understand that Government needs the money from work permits why don’t they just double the fees the higher they are? This will create a deterrent for persons to keep bypassing Caymanians to hire foreigners. We know that there are a large number of work permit holders in the unskilled areas that pay for their own work permits because of unscrupulous employers who don’t have any respect for the laws of the land. I say double these fees. I also say for every year that a work permit is renewed the cost should be increased on a percentage basis. Basically, if you want to keep employing foreigners to live and work here, it will cost you more every year to do so. I know that the businesses will condemn me for this statement, but if we don’t make the work permit issue more costly, we will continue to disenfranchise our people who are sitting unemployed.
In closing, I want to again thank the Director of the DER Mr. Tibbetts. I have been hearing some great stuff coming out of your department that you and your staff are doing a tremendous job to set the records straight and to aid Caymanians in securing stable employment. Please don’t get me wrong, I know that we have a handful of unemployable Caymanians and will cause havoc with the system and get on the talk shows and rant; don’t let those discourage you. If they would take that energy and put it to better use like changing their working attitude then we would have no employment issues. I want to encourage you to keep doing what you are doing, to show the Caymanian people who are hard working that they will be compensated fairly and will not be disenfranchised either by their employer or your department.