Legislation moves to create 'Caymanian only' jobs


Some job categories could be reserved for Caymanians only under new legislation allowing political leaders to set quotas limiting work permits for certain professions. 

Hotel concierges, human resources managers and trainee accountants are among the professions that could potentially be closed off to foreigners, Cayman Islands Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said Monday. 

Amendments to the Immigration Law empowering Cabinet to create “restricted areas of employment” were pushed through during Monday’s Legislative Assembly session. 

It will be up to Cabinet to decide what limits to set on which professions, depending on the needs of the day. Key employees, non-Caymanian permanent residents and spouses of Caymanians are among those who will be excluded from restrictions. 

A committee stage amendment to the bill means Cabinet’s decisions will have to be approved by the Legislative Assembly before they come into force. 

Opponents of the bill dismissed it as “window dressing” and “electioneering” that didn’t add anything to the powers already contained in current immigration legislation.  

Mr. Manderson said it would complement the current law and provide protection and inspiration for generations of Caymanians. 

“We are providing hope,” he said. “Caymanians have to know that if they go out and become qualified they have an excellent opportunity to move up the ladder and get the best jobs.  

“The government has to provide that opportunity,” he added. “Too often we hear of government not doing enough. Where is the protection? It is right here in this bill.” 

The bill is the end product of a debate begun in 2010 by George Town legislator Ellio Solomon, who brought a private member’s motion calling on government to consider reserving some job categories for Caymanians. 

Employment Minister Rolston Anglin, who was involved with the drafting of the bill, said it would allow Cabinet to set policy on immigration rather than leaving it to immigration officers to handle on a case-by-case basis. 

“This bill will enable Cabinet to make critical decisions around how it is that we are going to determine what trades, jobs, areas of employment ought to have a quota 
put in place.” 

He said the quota could be zero for some professions.  

Ezzard Miller, an independent lawmaker representing North Side, said the bill was unnecessary. 

“The current Immigration Law contains all of the criteria that is needed to ensure Caymanians get all of the jobs in this country that they are qualified for,” Mr. Miller said. “What we don’t have is the political will to appoint boards which are willing to enforce the existing legislation.” 

Alden McLaughlin, leader of the opposition, said the bill was an exercise in “self deception”. He said it would not help create jobs for Caymanians and could end up having negative repercussions. 

“We are going to get to where only jobs at the very bottom end of the economy are the exclusive province of Caymanians,” he said. “That is the stigma we are going to create by going down this road.” Former Premier McKeeva Bush, a representative from West Bay, supported the legislative changes. But Mr. Bush argued the best way to ensure Caymanians get jobs was through education and training and working with business to ensure big firms remain in the Cayman Islands. He added that capital projects he had tried to get off the ground, including work on cruise ship berthing facilities, Owen Roberts International Airport and the sewage system, would have helped create jobs for Caymanians. 

At the moment, there are 20,396 people on work permits in Cayman. The Work Permit Board refused 4,352 permit applications over the past two years, including 672 that were declined on the grounds that a qualified Caymanian was available. 

Mr. Manderson said those figures showed there was the will to enforce existing legislation. He said he believes the new law will broaden the power of government to dictate policy on immigration. 

He proposed a few examples of positions that could be reserved for Caymanians, including trainee accountants, hotel concierges and housekeepers. 

“The laws are being enforced yet we continue to have Caymanians out of work … In these austere times, where jobs are hard to come by, this bill provides real opportunities for Caymanians.” 


  1. Here’s an idea. What if Cayman stepped up it’s educational opportunities so Caymanians could compete in the job arena on a level playing field. Instead of resorting to xenophobia. But that would be more expensive and not nearly as satisfying to the electorate on a gut level.

  2. Paul on 4.35 Do you realize that it is Caymanians teaching foreigners the ropes when they come here. They come with a certificate but when you really check it out we are the ones showing them the practical ropes. Most of them become experienced here. I heard many of them say it after Hurricane Ican. Some persons I met were my barber, who went on to roofers after the hurricane then I was surprised to see the same person as an accountant at one of our big companies. How did he got there. Don’t let me have to tell you. It just have to stop.

  3. No wonder these people do not want to do independence! This small island thinking is going against the wave of globalization. This is really a dolly house legislature- Caymanian only jobs?? suppose no Caymanian there to fill that position. The only thing I agree with is Caymanian only legislature.

  4. This looks good on the surface, but as Paul stated what is going to be done to insure that Caymanian are prepared to prosper in these restricted positions. I understand some of them may not require much training or experience, but even a housekeeper has to have knowledge of the job, some places even require them to be certified. I agree with Arden that it could end up creating jobs only at the bottom of the economy if this is not handled properly, people need to have access to affordable training. Anyone collecting government assistance should have access to or even be required to get job specific training that will allow them to compete, an Internship or Community Service program for those on assistance would help a lot, it would give people on the job training probably save the government a lot of money and also give people motivation to seek employment in the private sector if they had to go out every day and work to get the assistance. You cannot make it easier to sit home and collect a check than to take a job.

  5. Hunter, I hear what you are saying but it sounds to me like he busted his butt to get ahead. Am I reading that wrong? Sometimes you have to hustle to get want you want..

  6. Here is an idea. That should have been put into practice 10 years ago.

    If a Caymanian graduates from Highschool and is accepted into ANY college. From anywhere.

    The government should loan with 0 interest, the cost of that education to that Caymanian child.

    This way, there would be no excuses.

    training on the job. Lets be serious here. How many people are going to go through that grinder, before that employer finds the right one. That’s the problem right now. Employer hires Caymanian to train, because he pays no work permit fee.
    That Caymanian doesn’t work out. For whatever reason. Doesn’t matter the reason.
    The employer does this again and again. Rinse repeat. After 4 or 5 tries, and no successful candidates, and over a year of trying. The employer is eventually going to get tired of this idea that he can train some local to do the job. he’s going to pay for a permit. It’s that simple. That is what is happening right now.

    Now if you have 5 employers and 3 of them experience this issue. When the next job vacancy comes up, because the permit holder gets rolled, quits, or gets fired. What do you think they are going to do? Go over looking for a local again. No, they are going to go the permit route. Even if it means losing money. Because time is money.

    Give every Caymanian child an education, and you will not need the government to make Caymanian only jobs, or even a DER for Caymanian jobs. All this is doing is creating that crutch, which is the problem in the first place.

    Why do you think bermuda got rid of their roll over policy. Because the crutch will never work. And bermuda is not interested in educating their locals. Anyone else see any similarities here?

  7. I worked at the Ritz-Carlton for a year and noticed that a low percentage of the employees were Caymanians. At peak season there are around 650 employees. Many jobs there only require a high school education. They provide your uniform and your lunch meal. They pay well and have a gratuity pool that you benefit from. You just have to show up on time, pass a drug and background check have no visible tattoos, do your job and treat the guest and fellow employees with respect.

  8. A little Ethnocentrism and Misanthropy towards Caymanians never hurt a few miserable soul I guess. If you so called solution types are even educated enough to know what those words mean. The Cayman Islanders get it here like a morning cup of coffee. Keep up with the conversation and you may learn something. Bermuda has similar legislation and with good reason, does that help? Go look it up.

    I do have to agree with the comments of the members opposing the bill however. While it is high time the laws on the books are enforced and new laws added where necessary, the sincerity of the movers of the law is questionable at best. Especially since they had almost four full years in control to deal with unemployment but could not find the time to have a solution considered until the very last day of the current assembly. Electioneering without the people at heart is not cool.

  9. This I will agree with, that the existing business staffing plan need to be enforced. Any regulation which seek to address the Cayman unemployment condition will be fought against by foreigners, who speak of Caymanians being lazy or uneducated. Oh! and competing with a global work-force.

    Government need to enforce this policy in house first and lead by example, no Caymanian should be made redundant during the upcoming down sizing of departments, any Caymanian earmarked should be given the opportunity for a lateral transfer into positions filled by a work permit holder.

    Citizens who broke the law and have paid their debt to society should not be ostracized from the work-force. Like Christians who have sinned repentance lead to salvation, and a police record should not be damnation to Caymanians. The deterrent to repeat offending by retaining a police record so many years has to be weighed carefully with the human condition; is the offender likely to re-offend if he has a job, or if he don’t. I say even a wolf will break into the hen house if his natural source of food is restricted..

  10. Mc Keeva has made a very valid point the best way to ensure Caymanians get jobs was through education and training … people will not listen to him. There is a wave of bad mind and malice against anything productive that man have to say. Papa Mac they will not listen to you … I know you have Cayman at heart but History will absolved you very soon.

  11. Caymanians have pride. When comes to work, our workers inherit the qualities of our forefathers when they first landed on the shore. We grew up thinking we are bees, working hard for the good of the colony and in turn for ourselves and our families.We take pride in our efficiency, quality and relentless quest to be better and rise above the others. All these become distinct when we start working alongside with a big bunch of nationalities beings. Whenever I see a new jamaican, my expectations are cut. No racism, just realism you can never expect too much from mass production.

    Sadly, all these that we have built up are being eroded and the rate is increasing. Our standard has dropped;our efficiency has been affected; our island is no longer clean and green.
    Caymanians do not deserve this, especially not from the government where much of their positions now are a result of our fathers’ obedience, long-suffering and self-sacrifical attitude, lending their full support with total loyalty. Up till now, many are still doing that without a single doubt even how rotten things have become.
    For the rest of us who have eyes, we must help others see.
    For the rest of us who have the blessings of education and analytical mind, we must help others think.
    Most of all, we who have a heart, let us feel for our fellow countrymen.
    Specially nurses should be locals only jobs and start training caymanians when shetty hospital opens in 2014.

  12. Ridiculous, why not make every job caymanian only then surely all the caymanians will be employed, job done.

    Well economics does not work that way, that’s why. Employers would rather employ caymanians if they are capable of doing the job anyway for financial reaasons and the reason they are not employed in certain jobs is that they are not capable due to lack of suitable education and training. The government would be better to impliment training and further education schemes but would that get the ‘expat bashing vote’?

    The reality is that the population here is not large enough to support the current economy (particularly government expenditure) and actually the way to turn the economy around and create more jobs is to relax the immigration policy and let more people in to contribute more income and taxes and create more jobs, but hey that would involve future planning and rational thinking, not a popular vote winning strategy.

  13. You see, this is what I never understood. A tourist came here on a visit last year and spoke to a hotel concierge who knew nothing about the Cayman Islands, but could tell him everything about Dallas Texas. Why? Because the concierge was not from here.

    I think when tourist come to these islands, they want to meet people who are native to the islands and at least have some knowledge of local places to go to and to see. So I think the move to have concierges only Caymanians is a good move.

  14. Having specific jobs reserved for local residents only is not unique to the Cayman Islands. Heck, does anyone know of the arduous task it is for non-US residents to get a job in the US today, even as a university student? The same process is in place in the US and dare I say it is often enforced with prejudice! However, I do agree that Cayman must continue to properly tool and educate our people to the highest level, not just to provide employment for locals but also to ensure that the Cayman Islands offer the highest quality service in the various industries. In addition, there is certain jobs that should be reserved solely for Caymanians particularly in the service industry where interaction with visiting tourists are a primary aspect of their job.

    But answer me this: why do we continue to hear of the university graduates with masters or bachelors degrees that cannot get job interviews? What do we say is the root cause of this unemployable stigma our qualified locals are experiencing???

  15. If you do this in the private sector, the people who get the special jobs will be called tokens as in he’s our token Caymanian. Someone else with a different title will have to do the actual work. Enforce the laws on the books and improve the schools and you will get results.

  16. Caymanians should have a psychical address or email address they can send their resumes to, whenever there is a JOB AD on the newspapers that goes directly to the WORK PERMIT BOARD, so members of said board, and its secretary for immediate proof that theres is a qualified Caymanian that can apply for that position. This will eliminate the system flaw that although employers advertise they have no intention in interviewing or attempt to hire a Caymanian.

  17. I absolutely agree that education is the only way to ensure quality of life for future generations. Unfortunately the generations before, the ones who run the country, were given too much to easy and now they are more concerned about maintaining a lifestyle that they should never have had to begin with. Education is the only way to level the playing field. No one wants to invest in anything anymore that doesn’t get them quick gains, sad.

  18. As long as the CIG is dependent on the revenue from Work Permits, it’s not likely that they will make choices that will reduce that income. So don’t expect much from them except empty promises around election time. As a Caymanian if you want success you are going to have to go out and get it on your own, you will have to do whatever it takes to make yourself the better choice. I know a little about discrimination and what tokens are, I scratched and scraped my way through Corporate America for years being passed over plenty of times because of the color of my skin, I’ve gotten interviews setup on numerous occasions just to be turned away when I showed up or told the jobs had been filled while the white guy behind me was invited in. On the other side of that I’ve gotten jobs where I know I was a token but I looked at it as an opportunity to prove myself and get experience. One thing I can tell you is that if you keep trying, stay on the right path and don’t give up good things will happen. There are opportunities out there you may just have to go out and struggle to find them they may not always be what you want but sometimes you have to look at certain things like a means to an end. If you have to take a job you don’t like to pay the bills that doesn’t mean you are stuck in that position if you do whatever it takes to keep moving up.

  19. Firstly I feel this is a great idea, how ever implementation of tracking systems is needed.

    For example, all construction trades should have a Government Endorsed apprenticeship. Training can and should be carried out by the private sector and endorsed by Government. Each graduate should be certified with a Government Issued certificate. This would give government the tools it needs to track how many qualified Caymanians are available for a given construction job. This is not perfect but far better than implementing restrictions without the data to make a clear and reasonable decision.

  20. Curious about the thumbs down to Polomol’s comment, Am I reading into this incorrectly. Do some people actually feel that they should not have to always show up for work

  21. @SPOILER Who are you trying to fool? Particularizing one nationality, Jamaicans, and exempting others such as ,Brits, Americans, Canadians, Filipinos, Indians, Pakistanis, Kenyans, Ugandans, Barbadians,Trinidadians, Guyanese and others, is indeed, discrimination and racism . Why you people can’t be objective in your reasoning?. Whatever qualms you may have with the Jamaicans , you must still admit that before Cayman Islands got so prosperous, Jamaicans were here doing many menial jobs that Caymanians would not dream of doing and still not doing today. Some of them may have their particular unenviable ways(which is hated), but most of them work hard and are honest. Again show me a foreign national(or indeed a Caymanian) without some bad traits in them? We all could point fingers at each other. No one nationality have a monopoly on bad traits, or good traits for that matter. What needs to happen is, if any nationality is a bad influence on the Caymanians, Just don’t hire them. Simple. Ban them for Heaven’s sake and that will take care of the problem once and for all

  22. I can remember when banks first came here . They had a few caymanians learning to work in the bank . They were trained by foreigners to work as cashiers and current accts. They learned to do the clearings from one bank to another. They learned how to make drafts for people. As they progressed they moved up the ladder. Many of the foreigners came from countries like England,Belize, Trinidad.Never had a problem hiring caymanians then.
    We worked alongside the foreigners then. Not hard work (physical) but mental work. We spoke english clearly with a proper caymanian accent. We could add,subtract,multiply and divide.
    We learned the tricks of the trade rapidly. I was in charge of 2 tills. The boss was from England married to a west indian woman. Hardly had a smile on his face a serious man . I remember coming late to work one day and he opened the door . He looked at me and said you’re late .I said I tried to get a ride he looked at me to see if I was dressed properly and noticed I didn’t shave . He told me to go home and get a shave. I said ok. As I stood out there to get a ride, one of the foreigners in the bank a high bank officer ask me what did the boss say. I told him. he then said I’m going to lend you my car its value is 600 if you have an accident you buy me or repair the car. Go to the bachelors quarters and turn left and borrow my razor and shave. Come back as quickly as you can.
    Those were the days when we had people who came here and helped caymanians and didn’t make excuses. We were invited to all of the parties, banks ,accounting firms, law firms everybody and anybody. From East end to West bay. Hitch hike any where. Walk the streets any time day or night.
    Now no one cares they all trying to make a million dollars and every penny counts.
    So what we desperately need is a quota system only so many from one country and thats it. I say that because when a group starts to monopolize a small country like this they want to take over and start to bring their culture to the forefront. They want to change the place to the way they do business over there.
    They forget that is what brought them over here . Don’t change the customs. God Bless

  23. Long before any other nationality dreamt of visting this land of swamp and banking Jamaicans came here to developed this nation! Spoil ungratefulness is worst than witch craft! What is sad almost of you have some connection in Jamaica? I don’t know why Jamaican choose to visit that swamp land! I went Jamaica and seriously the land is so green and fresh. The lovely mountains, the riverside, those beaches and its people.

  24. So anyone remember the bile and bigotry when work permit numbers approached 30,000 a few years back.

    The work permit numbers are down about 5,000 in the last few years so thats created 5,000 jobs for Caymanians right? So where are those jobs??????

    This is faulty logic and frankly should be offensive to the people of the island.
    So, the politicians believe that members of the Caymanian workforce are somehow flawed and without legislation they can’t get a job, what a pile of bunkum and claptrap.

    It’s cheaper to say THAT than invest in the real solution – Training, Training TRAINING!

    Ever wondered why there are so many Call Centers in India? Because companies can recruit highly skilled and qualified staff (MOST have degrees!)
    The knee jerk reaction is that it’s cheaper? At first glance, but remember that China now endorses English as a language which resulted in English overtaking Spanish as the planets most widely spoken tongue – and wages are such that they build iPhones for only a few dollars – so why not move the call centres to China?

    The fact is that all economic decisions are also made on quality. India got the call centres by having the balance between quality and salary.

    If a Caymanian applies for a 40K Job, ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, Nobody will give 40K to an Expat PLUS pay another 20% on work permits…..

    But what if there is an underqualified Caymanian (worth say 30K). Then a company will ALWAYS go the Expat route.

    Think about it, a company pays someone 40K because they generate significantly more than 40K in PROFIT, Maybe 80-100K. Now if someone is not at that level maybe they generate 50-70, so NO you arent saving 10K in salary your losing 20-30K of potential profit.

    THAT is why training a new member of staff is NOT COST EFFECTIVE WITHOUT GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE. A company who invests in training the underqualified guy will lose more in lost efficiency and cost of training than the potential 10K a year salary saving AND after a few years when said guy (or gal) has reached the point they’re worth 40k, free economy, they leave and get a job with the competition!

    INCENTIVISE Training – Allow companies who train to waive 2x Work Permit fees or even more, for every Caymanian in training and watch the opportunities increase.

    @Cayman Kind has a point, but lets take it a stage further, Why should a Business have to publish an advert in the papers – IN THIS DAY AND AGE, REALLY?
    Many industries publish ads online nowadays.

    The department of Employment should have a Database shared with Immigration with skills and qualifications of unemployed caymanians – You need a permit for a secretary with Microsoft Office skills? Interview this person first…

    BUT on the flip side if there are no suitable candidates then the work permit should be issued instantly without hindrance or delay – no business on island is without examples of petty bureaucracy and intransigence – that costs business and that HURTS the economy as a whole. Small and Medium enterprises SME’s make up 80 percent of productivity in most economies – why, because they can react to new market trends almost instantly, but we also need staff quickly to do so.

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