The debate about employment in the Cayman Islands and how to create more jobs is one that has so many dimensions that it is difficult to single out any one thing. However, with many foreign work permit holders leaving the islands it would seem that the opportunity would be there for more Caymanians to fill these roles, but that is not happening.
In fact, the situation is quite the opposite, as more people leave the Island, there seems to be more unemployed Caymanians. The reality is that it seems that more people in the country translates to more opportunities for everyone and the thinking that expatriates are simply taking jobs from Caymanians, seems archaic and nonsensical in light of the dwindling market for business and commerce in all directions,as more people exit our shores.
The cost of doing business in Cayman, as well as the Immigration Department’s ineptness, lack of customer service and inefficiency in relation to time needed to process applications for permits, compounded by a failing rollover policy and the implementation of a Visa condition for certain nationalities to enter the Islands, which can take up to two weeks to be granted, are all deterring factors to the advancement of business and commerce in the Cayman Islands that amounts to a stagnant anti-progressive regime. On the one hand the view is that with some of the people who have left, the jobs have become redundant, leaving no positions for Caymanians to fill. On the other hand the question has also been posed, “How many jobs are high school graduates actually prepared to do?” With many of the 700 or so children that graduate high school in the Cayman Islands not moving on to any further training of any kind, the fact that they are not working is hardly surprising.
This poignant reality check should cause Caymanians to be introspective to a degree and to put the blame squarely where it belongs: with those who lead us.
Why are Caymanian barbers and beauticians basically nonexistent? Is it because no one wants these jobs or is it because there has been no formal training whatsoever provided for those who aspire to take on such roles? This is the case in many areas and instead of blaming the youth or the people, the society should be holding those in office accountable for their actions or lack thereof.
There is of course the National Youth Policy, which seeks to state objectives for young people and “is a blanket directive for strategy as it relates to defining Caymanian culture and how this compliments the workforce,” says Minister for Youth and Culture Mark Scotland, who adds that the answer lies in creating new opportunities and preparing ourselves to fill these roles.
Scotland also says, “I think the permit issue is one that we need to look at. For instance, there is no reason why we need a pile of permit holders in the real estate industry to sell property in the Cayman Islands and the notion that Caymanians cannot close a deal is a farce.”
The minister added that he felt that rather than Caymanians not meeting the standard in many cases, it was more of an issue of employers wanting to control their employees that was driving the high number of permits in certain areas.
There are however, some areas of industry and work in Cayman that some say should be Caymanian only, as a way of ensuring a degree of certainty in the job market.