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.