The unemployed mother of four who demonstrated in downtown George Town a week ago said she is getting plenty of attention but, so far, no solid jobs offers.
Karissa Cameron, 24, stood under the Clock Tower beside the Legislative Assembly on Thursday morning, 25 November, with a large placard saying she was a young mother of four who was out of work.
Since then, she has received several calls about jobs in the public and private sectors and has been to some interviews, but by the middle of this week had not yet been hired.
“I’ve gotten several phone calls since my story’s been in the news and in the Compass, but… so far, nothing definite – nobody’s given me a job,” she said this week.
However, she has been invited to interview for jobs and is hopeful that her public appeal will soon result in steady, full-time employment.
In the past, she has worked as a secretary, administrative assistant, receptionist and bussed tables at restaurants.
“I’ve been to interviews and have filled out application forms. The difference is now people are calling me about jobs. Some places are telling me they can’t take me because they are overstaffed right now, but they want to let me know that they have my paperwork on file so that if anything comes up, they’ll give me a call,” she said.
High unemployment rate for Caymanians
According to the figures stated in the annual Strategic Policy Statement, released in the Legislative Assembly on the same day Ms Cameron carried out her demonstration, Cayman’s overall unemployment rate for this financial year is 5.4 per cent. Although the report, citing statistics from the Economics and Statistics Office, does not give a breakdown of how many Caymanians are out of work this year, usually the unemployment rate for Caymanians is higher than the overall rate, which includes Caymanians and non-Caymanians. According to statistics for last year, the overall unemployment rate for 2009 was 6 per cent, which included 9.9 per cent of the Caymanian workforce, or 1,790 people, out of work,and 2.2 per cent of non-Caymanian workers – or 390 individuals – unemployed.
Ms Cameron, who said she is bringing up her children on her own since her husband left her and moved from Cayman, hopes that once she gets a job, she will be able to go back to school and study at night. She is considering studying law.
After standing in George Town during the morning rush hour last week with her sign, Ms Cameron abandoned her demonstration when she was approached by a representative of the Department of Employment Relations who told her the minister wanted to see her. However, the young mother said she did not see employment minister Rolston Anglin, but instead met with Director of Employment Relations Robert Whittaker and other officials from the department.
She said that meeting with the Department of Employment Relations was not her first. She had been to the department previously to try to find work after losing her job in September.
“I’ve been there several times before… When I went in this time, they pulled out all the stops telling me what they were doing. There were so many people in the room, I was overwhelmed,” she said. “At the end of the day, they couldn’t come up with any employment.”
Ms Cameron said in August she left a job in an inventory department of a local company – a position she had held for three years – to take up a job doing accounts for another company. When she was interviewed for that job, she said she told the company she had no experience or training in handling accounts, but she was offered the job anyway and told she would be trained. However, she was terminated after one month and has been looking for a job since then.
She said she felt she had been discriminated against in that job and had been “set up” to take a job she was not qualified for.
She is also disappointed that none of her local George Town MLAs nor the minister of employment had contacted her.
Her public display has garnered a lot of attention, most of which has been positive, Ms Cameron said.
“It has been extremely positive. My age group, my school friends, younger people, have been coming up to me to say they are very proud of me. They tell me ‘Don’t be afraid, when you stand out with that sign, you were standing up for other young mothers who don’t want to go out there’”, she said.
“It has empowered me. My self-esteem has gone through the roof. Now I know I can do anything,” she added.