Five days after meeting with Education Minister Rolston Anglin on the issue of unemployment, protesters took to the street in front of the Legislative Assembly building with banners to make a statement.
Protesters claimed on Thursday they were receiving unfair treatment in their own country when it came to finding gainful employment.
Mr. Anglin said he invited the organiser of the march and any others who desired to attend a meeting on Wednesday, 11 December, at which he had invited other elected colleagues, ministry personnel, Department Employment Relations personnel and Immigration personnel to hear directly from the women and asserted the government’s commitment to assist.
Five days later, the group of women were waving cards that read: “Caymanians are employable” – in front of the LA.
“We don’t have an employability issue we have the issue of incompetence in the Department of Employment Relations,” said demonstrator Kerry Horek. “That is our cause for unemployment. We are employable contrary to what others may say or think.”
The ladies said they were willing and able to work but were frustrated at not finding work, disappointed at government and the Cayman Islands Department Employment Relations for handling the issue so poorly.
Mr. Anglin said he understood the protester’s concerns.
“We have a significant unemployment issue that poses one of the greatest threats to our economy and society and the government is tackling the matter on three fronts,” said Mr. Anglin in a statement to the Caymanian Compass.
He said he would meet with the private sector with a view to better facilitate the hiring of Caymanians. He said he also plans to secure temporary assistance for the job placement unit at the Department Employment Relations and select an assessment tool to help understand people’s skills and better match them with job opportunities.
Government is reorganising the Department of Employment Relations into a new Department of Labour and Pensions and Human Capital Development Agency.
“The new Department of Labour and Pensions will provide the public with more seamless/efficient labour and labour related services and the HCDA will provide all job placement, training and scholarship services,” Mr. Anglin said. “The Government will be ensuring that the established linkages between the Department Employment Relations and the Immigration Department are working to ensure Caymanians are given every opportunity to secure employment… and thirdly the Government was working diligently to get projects, both public and private, started to kick start the economy and generate employment.”
The ministers should be doing more, said Ms Horek.
“The other day they had one young lady standing by the clock tower looking work; today there are a number of us ladies. Something is wrong. My real question is: why are Caymanians not at the forefront in their own country. There are unskilled people on work permit and contracts when Caymanians can do the same job,” she said.
“I think it is a dark day in our country especially just before Christmas when the ladies of this country don’t have work, can’t pay mortgages and feed their children,” said former George Town MLA Lucille Seymour. “Even standing here and looking out I see drivers, gardeners and others on work permit. Why are we hiring 22,000 in a country of 55,000 people if we have an employment issue?”
Ms Seymour said she was appealing to the government, the private sector and the Department Employment Relations to come comer together to reduce the unemployment rate and assist the people in finding jobs. “I realise that some of the skills that Caymanians have may no longer be needed but let’s fast track the learning system and get our people qualified so they can get jobs. I applaud the group of ladies for having the decency to stand up and be heard,” she added.
Donna Welcome, carrying a sign that read, ”I am an employable Caymanian” said she had an associate degree in business and held and accounting job. When she went to find other employment she was turned down.
“Most of the companies don’t even bother to get back to you and those that do get back said I was unsuccessful,” she said.