The Cayman Islands National Workforce Development Agency has placed workers in or offered jobs to 159 people since the Progressives government took office, according to figures reported last week.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said the 159 jobs were taken or offered in a span of eight months ending Jan. 31.
The workforce development agency is government’s employment clearinghouse for jobless Caymanians, offering career counseling as well as job-placement services. The agency is required to issue a letter stating no qualified Caymanians are available before any job is offered to a non-Caymanian work permit holder.
“The agency is well on its way to having the staff needed to deliver on its important mandate, to ensure that it is positioned to support Caymanians in accessing and progressing in employment,” Premier Alden McLaughlin said.
Despite government efforts in finding local residents jobs, Caymanian unemployment has remained stubbornly high over the past few years. At last report, about 1,900 Caymanians were jobless, comprising about 10 percent of the available local workforce. Jobless data for 2013 has not yet been made public.
Moreover, a number of jobs have recently become available through the departure of non-Caymanian workers who formerly held Term Limit Exemption Permits. All of those permits expired on Dec. 9.
Of the group of about 1,500 term limit exemption workers, 274 were granted new work permits as of mid-January and another 576 had applied for new work permits. Another 54 applied for permanent residence and 547 had left the islands by that time.
No figures were available to state how many of the 547 workers who departed Cayman had their jobs filled by Caymanians.
Premier McLaughlin has previously noted that not all jobs held by term limited foreign workers would be filled by locals.
“Over 900 are jobs as domestics, gardeners or caregivers … which Caymanians have generally expressed little interest in filling,” the premier said last year.
According to data made public under a Freedom of Information request by the Caymanian Compass, there were 19,793 work permit holders in the Cayman Islands as of Jan. 28. That number includes non-Caymanians working here on government contracts and individuals awaiting the outcome of permanent residence applications or appealing work permit denials.
Just four months before, there were 20,587 work permit holders in the Cayman Islands. The drop in permits represents a reduction of nearly 800 people, or about 4 percent of the total work permit population.
The somewhat unusual occurrence of work permit numbers declining at the peak of the high tourism season is explained partly by the departure of about 550 people who had been working under term limit exempt status and partly by a drop in the number of people working in Cayman “by operation of the law.”
The “operation of law” status is usually granted to individuals who have passed their term limit on residency in Cayman, but who have applied for permanent residence and are awaiting the outcome. It can also be given to non-Caymanians whose work permits have been turned down and who are appealing that decision.
Immigration records show that the number of people working by operation of the law declined from 592 to 389 during the four-month period.