CITA calls on government to correct “misinformation”
The Cayman Islands Tourism Association has accused legislator Alva Suckoo of a “misinformed and unwarranted attack” on its unsuccessful employment drive.
The association says it will have to rethink its jobs drive following what it described as “outrageous” attacks on the good intentions of the program, named CayTED.
Mr. Suckoo, a Bodden Town MLA, had suggested CITA’s jobs drive, which helped find work for a small number of unemployed Caymanians, was a “deliberate attempt to discredit Caymanians and justify using cheap labor.”
CITA says it is shocked by the allegations about a voluntary jobs initiative which it says involved industry executives and human resources professionals giving up their time in a first-of-its-kind collaboration with the National Workforce Development Agency.
In an open letter to the public, the association repeatedly refers to comments made by Mr. Suckoo, without naming him directly. It says those comments will deter other industries from taking a similarly proactive approach to recruiting Caymanians. The association questioned why government has not stepped in to correct “misinformation” from one of its representatives.
“CITA wants nothing to do with anything that is perceived as discrediting Caymanians.
“In the light of the negativity that has been cast on CayTED, if these falsehoods remain uncorrected in the public perception, CITA will have to disassociate itself from any future iteration of a tourism employment drive in conjunction with NWDA,” the letter states.
CITA president Ken Hydes previously acknowledged the jobs drive had not produced the results the association had hoped for. 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 water-sports operators, who had vacancies. As of Jan. 7, only six had found jobs.
“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,” Mr. Hydes told the Compass at the time.
Mr. Suckoo, in an interview with website Cayman News Service earlier this month, was quoted expressing “grave concerns” that the jobs drive was manipulated to help tourism employers secure work permits. He questioned CITA’s claims that there were more than 50 job openings at the time of the employment drive. He claimed that he was unable to find the list of jobs behind the drive and that the NWDA had not been provided with the list either. He said he had looked on CITA’s website and found only six job advertisements.
CITA points out that the jobs were posted in October, prior to the recruitment drive, and that a full list was provided to the NWDA.
Mr. Suckoo was quoted as saying, “It is a disservice to our people for CITA to declare that they could only find six Caymanians out of 102 potential employees when they cannot now provide a report on the persons they attempted to hire.”
Mr. Suckoo could not be reached for further comment on Monday.In its letter to the public, CITA cites that article and comments made on the “Cayman Crosstalk” radio show as the basis for its complaint. It states that the jobs program was transparent and questions why government or the NWDA has not publicly corrected what it describes as “misstatements” from Mr. Suckoo.
“CITA has been very restrained and deliberately patient in the hopes that the relevant government ministry, department or representative will publicly issue authoritative, clear and firm corrections to the misstatements and unfounded allegations of lack of transparency and improper motives. We believe that is the proper and most effective way to set things right. We still hope that will be forthcoming.”
The three-page letter warns that Mr. Suckoo’s comments will serve to discourage any other industries from attempting to collaborate with the NWDA in jobs drive initiatives.
“No other industry in Cayman has gone to the extent that CITA has done in attempting to work corroboratively with the NWDA by initiating and organizing a professionally conducted job drive seeking to place unemployed persons to fill vacancies in our industry, involving people at the highest levels of companies in tourism and in the HR recruitment community here.
“CITA wishes that a higher number of Caymanians could have been placed in jobs as a result of all this effort that enabled so many interview opportunities, but we respect that ultimately employers have to choose the best person available for the job.”
The letter says it was disheartening for the professionals who had given up their time for the jobs drive to be the target of allegations and “fierce attacks” about their intentions. CITA says it created a public website during the employment drive to list available vacancies. The letter suggests there were 42 job listings on the site, comprising more than 61 vacancies at a diverse range of employers.
A printed Excel spreadsheet of the job listings was provided to the NWDA at the first jobs roadshow on Oct. 18 and then again via email following Mr. Suckoo’s comments on Feb. 12, CITA says. Despite this, the letter says accusations from a “government representative” that the list had not been provided were still being aired on Friday – a week later.
It adds that it has provided the NWDA with “very detailed information” charting the progress and status of each candidate referred for job interviews. “We consider it outrageous therefore to infer anything other than a transparent and professional process that was fully intended to place suitable unemployed Caymanians into tourism jobs,” the letter states.
Director of the NWDA Brian Holland did not respond to requests for comment by press time.