NWDA apologizes over tourism jobs row

Workforce agency regrets ‘miscommunication’ over jobs drive

The National Workforce Development Agency has issued a public apology for the role it played in a “miscommunication of information” which apparently fueled some of the criticism leveled at the Cayman Islands Tourism Association by government legislator Alva Suckoo. 

CITA objected to comments by Mr. Suckoo in the media that its jobs drive lacked transparency. The Bodden Town MLA questioned how the initiative had apparently found work for only six people out of an initial list of 102 job seekers.  

He suggested the program, named CayTED, was part of a deliberate attempt to discredit Caymanians to help tourism employers get permits for lower paid foreign workers. 

The association reacted with an open letter describing those comments as “misinformed and unwarranted” and threatening to pull the plug on its collaboration with the NWDA. 

Brian Holland, director of the NWDA, in a letter of response to CITA which appears on page 4 of today’s Compass, suggested some of Mr. Suckoo’s comments were based on miscommunication between the agency and the politician. He said the agency had been kept in the loop by CITA on the jobs available. 

He added that the NWDA wished to continue working with CITA to find jobs for Caymanians in the tourism industry, and acknowledged that the association and its membership companies had contributed many volunteer hours on the employment drive. 

He added, “The NWDA acknowledges that CITA has attempted to engage in an employment initiative at a level that has not yet been seen within any other industry or sector in the Cayman Islands.” 

Mr. Holland, in a statement to the Compass, said the agency had extended an apology to CITA and to Mr. Suckoo for the miscommunication of information, which apparently contributed to Mr. Suckoo’s criticisms that the program lacked transparency. 

In an article on the Cayman News Service website, the MLA questioned CITA’s claims that there were more than 50 job openings at the time of the employment drive. He claimed that the NWDA had not been provided with the list either, and went on to suggest there had been no follow-up report to explain why local candidates were not selected. 

Mr. Holland said the jobs had been posted on a website developed by CITA, with many of them copied on the NWDA’s own site.  

He said there had been some confusion about whether a specific list of the available jobs had been provided to the agency at the time of the jobs drive, but he said this was not the fault of the association.  

“On the day of the first event, an NWDA representative requested a copy of the list of jobs available. While CITA asserts that a list was provided to the NWDA representative, the representative does not recall receiving the list.  

“However, a list may have been received by the NWDA and in the midst of the activities of the day, this fact may have been forgotten. At no point in time did CITA refuse to provide the NWDA with a list,” he said. 

In the aftermath of the event, he said, the agency had received CITA’s working spreadsheet on the jobs available.  

“This document contained detailed information, including the list of participants, and names of companies and posts that participants were referred to,” he added. He said CITA is working on updating the spreadsheet in an effort to assess the final outcomes of the employment drive. 

“The NWDA values its private sector partners and sees this type of relationship as critical to facilitating opportunities for Caymanians to access, maintain and progress in the local labor market.” 

Mr. Suckoo declined to comment on Tuesday. 


  1. It is ironic that we have and need a work permit holder to head up our NWDA, the very agency that is advocating that the private sector MUST hire Caymanians.

    In light of this misunderstanding can we please be told exactly what this man has done to enhance the NWDA and Caymanian employment since joining the department.

  2. I think we should adopt a system where the government gives permission to dive operators to offer Lion Fish hunting courses that end with the student being given a certificate to hunt Lion Fish with a certified dive operators dive masters. And actually allow them to hunt under the direction of the dive shop. Not just accompany a diver while they hunt. This would benefit the dive operations as it would enable them to offer courses, certify hunters and also lead these hunts.
    It would remove the responsibility from the overwhelmed and slow moving government office that currently controls this function and drastically increase the lion fish culling while giving the dive operators a great boost economically.

  3. Distraction tactics, CITA still needs to explain why so few Caymanians were hired, and in fact why so many have yet to be even contacted for an interview! Distraction smoke and mirrors, but someone at NWDA needs to be fired as well.

  4. Gareth

    I’m going to share my personal experience with you;I wasn’t going to but I think hat your comments deserve it.

    I actually got hired in a tourism-related job at a good hotel through the NWDA…through absolutely no effort of the NWDA, except for them to list the job on their website…when it was finally up and running.

    The process included trying to register to a non-functional website from abroad, going in to their office to do a manual registration when finally on-island, waiting 3 months to be told the registration hadn’t been done when calling back to check on it.

    Having to report one of their long-time employees to the Minister of Employment for exceedingly poor customer service, meeting with her superiors on the matter…a great example of one of those who might be in Mr. Manderson’s firing line, literally.

    And, actually getting the job !

    None of this fiasco has come as any surprise to me and with the current staff and structure in place there, it is a miracle that anything at all gets done.

    Mr. Suckoo needs to choose his political fights more wisely; with allies like the NWDA, his battle is lost long before it even starts.

    At least now, their website is supposed to be working properly ha ha ha!

    Amd, trust me, every single word of this is absolutely true.

  5. Ricardo’s experience is a perfect example of what happens when you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job. This is a huge benefit to you and your family, sitting on your behind and whining about what the NWDA, CITA or anyone else is or is not doing only hurts you.

    Kudos to you Ricardo, I have a huge amount of respect for anyone who’s willing to jump whatever hurdles are placed in them from of them to get where they want to go, I have certainly had to jump quite a few in my lifetime and I’m sure there will be plenty more.

    Here’s few quotes I think about whenever the struggle gets hard.

    I’ve been motivated by overcoming challenge and overcoming the hurdles and obstacles that face me. There still is plenty out there to get motivated by.

    Andre Agassi

    There’s always hurdles. So I just keep moving, just constantly redefining myself. That’s how you stay in the race.

    Isaac Hayes

    I think everybody has tragedy in their life. Everybody has hurdles in their life. Everybody has tough things to overcome. My kids say to me, ‘This isn’t fair.’ I said, ‘Life isn’t fair.’ Everybody has their issues. It’s how you handle your issues that distinguishes you.

    Maria Shriver

    You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

    Albert Einstein

    Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

    Bradley Whitford

    Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

    Arthur Ashe