Tepid response to tourism jobs drive

Six Caymanians hired after industry outreach program


 A jobs drive to match unemployed Caymanians with vacant positions in the tourism industry was met with an underwhelming response, with just six people finding work through the program to date. 

It is the second time the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the National Workforce Development Agency have combined in a focused effort to get Caymanians work in the industry.  

Of the 102 people who scheduled assessment sessions with industry and human resources experts at two jobs road shows in October, only 78 showed up. Of those, 68 were deemed “work ready.”  

They were matched with prospective employers, including hotels, restaurants and watersports operators, who had vacancies. But as of Jan. 7, only six had found jobs. 

Ken Hydes, president of CITA, said the biggest issue was job seekers not responding or returning calls when approached by prospective employers to set up an interview. 

Mr. Hydes said he is still hopeful that others will find work as a result of the program. But he acknowledged it is frustrating to see such low returns. 

“Around 10 percent of the people that were found to be job ready have got jobs. It is not the most impressive return. It is the same issue, the same challenges we had last year.” 

A similar industry-wide effort last year found jobs for 12 people. Mr. Hydes said the industry was doing its best to reach out to unemployed Caymanians, but was met with apathy in many cases. 

Reading from a database of applicants screened in the employment drive and referred for interviews, Mr. Hydes ran through some of the reasons they had not been hired: Declined offer, wanted 9-5 position, left voicemail call not returned, left voicemail call not returned, left voicemail call not returned… 

He said everyone who went through the program was asked to leave valid phone numbers and alternative numbers, and were called on several occasions before the position was offered to someone else. 

He said the process had been flipped this year so that employers were required to contact the jobseeker for an interview, rather than vice versa.  

In some cases, he acknowledged, candidates were rejected by employers because after an interview, they were not deemed suitable for the job. But he said the vast majority of those who had not found work through the program had either turned down opportunities or had not responded to calls. 

“At the time of the jobs road show, we had in excess of 50 positions available. The feedback from the industry is that we can only do what we can do. There’s a significant number of people that haven’t shown up for interviews or haven’t been contactable.” 

Putting a positive spin on the exercise, Mr. Hydes said six people who would otherwise be out of work had found jobs. 

“We are going to remain positive and look at how we can build on our good relationship with the NWDA,” he added. 

He said the jobs road show, which involved two screening sessions at Clifton Hunter High School and the Sir Vassell Johnson Hall, required significant buy-in and time commitment from people in the industry. 

“I wouldn’t be involved in this if I didn’t think it was a thorough process,” Mr. Hydes said. “The reality is, the employers are reaching out. If the people don’t meet the criteria, I can’t expect them to hire them, especially if they are not doing their part and returning phone calls.” 


Mr. Hydes


  1. At least this article appears to be taking the approach of explaining the facts versus providing a personal opinion on the problem. Just because someone is qualified for a position does not necessarily entitle them to get the job, that applicant still needs to express a desire to want to work their, motivation to actively pursue the employer through the interview process and make sure they express during the interview what makes them an ideal candidate for the position and what they can bring to the company. It is no different here in the US, just on a larger scale. The bottom line is if someone is unemployed they need to work just as hard at finding a job as if they were actually employed. If the 50 individuals possibly took that approach, I believe several more of them would become gainfully employed.

  2. Working in tourism jobs in Cayman long time ago was an A plus. Now a days those positions are not given to Caymanians, and there are a few reasons. Tips for one. The jobs have become competitive, and the Caymanians are not hip-hop enough to maneuver in these positions; besides Caymanians will die for a foreign accent.
    So unless firm decisions are made for Caymanians to fill some of these positions and they then in turn learning that they have to do what they have to do to get in line. Tourist love to hear the Cayman accent. Don’t take that away.

  3. Very Informative, I don’t see anywhere in this process where employers conspired to keep from hiring Caymanians. It seems like they are doing what they can, but this cannot rest on their heads it cannot be left up to the business community to make sure Caymanians are able to compete in the job market. That is up to the parents along with the school system. Where the school system has to provide educational opportunities and parents need to insure that their children take advantage of these opportunities. Cayman really needs to put a huge focus of the next generation of young adults and make sure the same mistake made with the last generation aren’t repeated and this isn’t just a Cayman thing.

    From the details here it sounds like a lot of people don’t really want to do that type of work, or deal with the unusual hours the tourism industry requires. I like to see the turnout for a Jobs drive for the financial industry, or why doesn’t government sponsor Job Fairs once or twice a year and invite the business community to showcase their opportunities. It would give the job seeking public vital information on what type of opportunities are out there they can even speak with HR people about how to prepare for these opportunities down the line. I can only imagine a hiring manager seeing the same face at each job fair showing enthusiasm and willingness to do what it takes to succeed, this would encourage them to give that person a chance.

    This job drive shows that they tried so you can fault them for hiring expats who are happy to get these jobs, after all these folks have businesses to run which I am sure plenty of Caymanians are benefiting from.

    Jobs drives for the tourism industry, RCIPS and even Ezzards personal quest to fill expat held jobs with Caymanians all seem to have been a bust so put the Expats are stealing our jobs myth to rest. If those guys weren’t doing the work the companies go out of business so it’s time to start showing appreciation for those hard working people that happily do the work you don’t want to do instead of alienating them

  4. Twyla,

    Job positions should not be given to anyone, no matter where you are from, job positions are earned.
    I agree with you that these sorts of positions should be held by Caymanians but it will never happen, the results of the Tourism Ministry and this very article highlight that.
    Your view (and of many others) of Caymanians being given a job because they are Caymanian is the very attitude that needs to be stamped out from this Country. It is that attitude, which echoes that somehow we are owed something because we are Caymanian which is clearly damaging job prospects and distorting many of the young Caymanians minds. The days of old are gone, and have been for a long time, and here is a news flash, they are not coming back.
    Employers and Companies do not owe Caymanians anything, you need to understand that.
    What you need to do is give them reasons to hire you, and it seems that currently there are a lot of people (the unemployables) who are not doing that.
    If you cannot find a job, then you are doing something wrong in your approach to finding work, whether it be poor attitude, poor verbal skills, no qualifications, or a poor work record, its not because you are Caymanian.
    Grow up and get with the times, do what you need to do to improve and you will be recognized and rewarded, instead of moaning like the world owes you a favour, it doesn’t.

  5. With the writing clearly written on the wall, it is interesting to read Ms. Vargas’ comment, which unfortunately, reflects the views of many Caymanians…to their own detriment.

    * …positions are not given to Caymanians…?
    * …unless firm decisions are made for Caymanians to fill some of these positions…?

    What utter rubbish! Show me a democratic country in this world where employers are allowed to coerce a citizen into accepting a job offer, and I will support your views. The onus is on every man/ woman to seek employment, irrespective of location – Cayman or abroad.

    This is the type of message that is inculcated in the minds of young Caymanians…breeding a culture of entitlement and poor work ethics. Where in the world have you heard of a job or place in the hospitality sector that closes its doors at 5pm? Should the the Ritz or Marriott close their doors and throw out guests after 5pm, just because a few LAZY people choose not to work after that time?

    HELL NO! Business goes on…

    You speak of accent…another ridiculous comment. Every Caribbean island (dialect) has its own unique accent – Jamaican, Trini etc. However, they also speak English, which I believe is the crux of the matter. Communications with international visitors (tourists) require basic English or another major language. Could this be the real challenge or wha’?

    Instead of using this forum to spread IGNORANCE, how about using your influence as an older Caymanian to create that paradigm shift that is required for Caymanians to become competitive on their own turf?

    No one is taking jobs from Caymanians. Jobs are being neglected and abandoned.

    Stop playing the ostrich with its head in the sand and do something worthwhile to help your people.

  6. Forest, One thing that makes me laugh out loud each day is to wonder what would happen in the mornings when we wake up and cannot find any writings on the wall from Twyla Vargas to respond to.
    I know it would be a dull day, even for the editorial, So I just have to keep commenting just to encourage the responses.

  7. Ms. Vargas’:

    The comment I made about writing on the wall actually refers to the evidence in plain sight – that many unemployed Caymanians are simply not interested in securing employment.

    Also, don’t get me wrong…there are many brilliant, ambitious and productive Caymanians. Just too few of them…

    The problem goes much deeper than young people not interested in work…as is common in many countries around the world.

    The problem is the resultant hostility that is created when these same people who DO NOT want work, end up in the media and society complaining that expats are taking away their jobs. They don’t want to work, but make noise when someone else gladly accepts the job. What do they expect? A salary without showing up at the office? Do they think that their birth certificate and nationality come with life-time guarantee of employment, without sacrifice and hard work?

    And all these arguments about expats taking away jobs… which leads me to my last point.

    Who is a Caymanian? Isn’t Cayman made-up of the descendants of expats who traveled by ship to inhabit and settle in a land that was infested with crocodiles and turtles? Where would Cayman be without expats? If we are to get into the nitty-gritty of who a true Caymanian is…we have three options: (1). descendants of Christopher Columbus; (2). descendants of turtles or (3). descendants of crocodiles.

    I am sure none of my beautiful Caymanian friends would want to be classified in either of the three. So quit defending the lazy few who are living by ‘self-fulfilling prophesy’ of not being able to find work…in a country so gloriously prosperous and economically better-off than many other countries with REAL unemployment.

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