Despite recent budget cuts that have reduced the number of its own employees, the National Workforce Development Agency is working as quickly as possible to verify the list of those seeking employment through the department, officials said.
A government audit of the agency’s list of Caymanians seeking employment will get underway in the next few weeks.
The review, which generally involves updating information on those seeking work through the agency, is typically done once or twice a year, said Employment Services Manager Lois Kellyman. However, due to recent budget cuts that have left the agency down several employees, additional help is being brought in from other government departments. Certain government human resources managers are being seconded for a brief time to help staff at the workforce development agency.
“It does take a while,” Ms Kellyman said of the review task.
At last check, Ms Kellyman said the agency, which is the central public sector clearinghouse for placing unemployed workers in jobs for which they are qualified, had a list of roughly 700 to 800 individuals registered as unemployed and seeking work.
Since the last check, however, some of those listed as unemployed will have found work and others who were not registered may have lost employment. Other registrants may have new addresses or phone numbers, or simply have not kept in touch with the agency.
“We urge people to actively contact us and come in and use our services as well, it’s not just about them getting on a list with us,” Ms Kellyman said.
In 2012, the last full year for which statistics were available, an estimated 2,410 people were unemployed, according to the government Economics and Statistics Office.
Breaking down that number for unemployed Caymanians, there were an estimated 1,925 last year, or local unemployment of 10.5 percent of the overall workforce.
Ms Kellyman said there has always been a disparity between unemployment numbers reported by the statistics office, which generates its estimates based on sample surveys, and the numbers of individuals who are actually registered as looking for work by the National Workforce Development Agency.
“Not everybody who is unemployed registers with us,” she said. “This review will help us determine how many of them there are and also help verify their skills.”
Following the government-assisted audit, Ms Kellyman said, the agency is budgeted to receive five additional positions in the 2013/14 government spending plan. She said this should help with the labor-intensive task of keeping track of Cayman’s unemployed and matching them with potential jobs.
Cayman’s Immigration Law requires employers to hire based on a hierarchy of resident status based on individuals who are qualified for the particular position. Caymanians must be considered first, followed by permanent residents and then non-Caymanian work permit holders who are already resident in the islands.
At last check in mid-September, there were just more than 20,500 non-Caymanian work permit holders, including government contract workers, residing in the islands.
The National Workforce Development Agency will receive a list of the roughly 1,500 jobs now held by non-Caymanians on Term Limit Exemption Permits.
All exemption permits issued since October 2011 will expire by Dec. 9 if amendments to local law are passed this month as expected. Those workers who still have time left prior to their term limits taking effect must apply for new work permits under the Immigration Law if they wish to stay.
Government proposes to grant the extension to Dec. 9 from the current expiration date of Oct. 28 to ensure employers have adequate time to advertise the position.