The escalating crime situation on Grand Cayman has led many residents to theorise its cause.
Most people seem to agree that high unemployment of young males is the root cause of the crime epidemic.
Having large numbers of idle young men is never a very good state of affairs in any society. However, the question becomes: Why can’t the idle hands of Cayman find work?
The reason, most certainly, is not because there is no work. Cayman imports more than 20,000 foreign workers because of its chronic labour shortage. Any employer would gladly hire a qualified Caymanian over an expatriate worker to save on work permit fees and bureaucracy.
Part of the problem lies in the lack of fundamental skills like reading and writing, eliminating the possibility of most good-paying jobs. No one really wants to do menial labour for low wages, the kinds of jobs usually filled here by expatriates from impoverished countries. But even if those jobs were earmarked for Caymanians only, many young people would probably prefer a life of crime to a life of menial labour earning barely enough to survive.
Then there’s the issue of willingness to work. The concept of working for a living, of having enough self-discipline and responsibility to attend a job, day in and day out isn’t necessarily natural for a young person, especially one that hasn’t had the right reinforcing messages while growing up. Those that have had things handed to them as children, who haven’t been pushed in school – by their parents and the system – and who have no interests or passions to pursue with work, probably see giving someone else at least a third of their day, five days a week, as something akin to torture.
Perhaps it’s time to institute a system of a year or two of mandatory national service, which could be deferred to those who go to college and eventually waived to those who graduate from college. Others could serve their country in some meaningful way and along the way hopefully acquire the skills, interests, discipline and sense of responsibilty to become productive members of society.