Tourism jobs drive to try again
The National Workforce Development Agency should become the Cayman Islands government’s “ultimate authority” on local jobs – in both the public and private sectors – according to an agreement between the agency and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.
One of the stated goals from those discussions, made public Saturday by Premier Alden McLaughlin’s office, said, “The National Workforce Development Agency should become the national clearing house for jobs giving job seekers, immigration, labor and employers a completely transparent view of the employment situation and allowing Caymanians access to opportunities that would otherwise become work permits.”
Currently, the workforce agency, which is staffed by about a dozen government employees, maintains and monitors a list of available jobs with the government and from more than 1,000 private sector companies in the islands.
However, registration on the site is not mandatory for companies, and Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo said Monday he has received some feedback indicating Caymanian job seekers are not finding much on the site.
“Part of what has slowed down NWDA in the past is that the job seekers look at that list and say, ‘I don’t see that many jobs there,’” said Mr. Suckoo, who is the head of the government task force that recently completed its review of the workforce development agency. “We’re trying to work with those that already have something in place that can assist us to ensure that every job is listed with the [workforce agency].”
Precisely how each available job is to be listed with the government agency is still a matter for discussion, Mr. Suckoo said. In one scenario, the entity currently advertising most of the jobs – the Cayman Compass – would send all of the ads it receives to the NWDA for listing. Other scenarios, including one where jobs are no longer advertised at all in local media, have been discussed.
Mr. Suckoo said he does not support the latter option because he does not view the government website as a replacement for advertising. He said the ultimate goal is to give each position a unique “job ID” that can be viewed on the NWDA website.
“So anyone looking for work, no matter what education, what training … you should be able to look on there and say ‘that’s a job I should be able to do,’” Mr. Suckoo said. “Right now, immigration has been making decisions [on work permits] without knowing what the labor market looks like. We’re still going to need work permits. There’s just not enough Caymanians to put in all the open positions.”
The jobs list is also not intended to become a replacement for local recruitment firms, and Steve McIntosh, chief executive of CML Offshore Recruitment, does not believe it will. However, Mr. McIntosh dismissed the idea that local recruitment firms aren’t putting Caymanians in jobs now.
“The majority of our recruitment is on island,” he said. “The idea that our existence creates more work permits is just a fallacy. We place an average of two Caymanians a week in jobs.”
Mr. McIntosh views the NWDA job listings as more of a compliance requirement for the Immigration Department.
“I think it makes sense,” he said. “The current [work permit] system has a chain of custody issue. It depends on employers self-reporting Caymanian applicants. You can’t prove what didn’t happen. Why not just have them on a website and people can look at them?”
Mr. Suckoo said the National Workforce Develop-ment Agency will seek to develop a pilot project for the jobs listing website with the tourism association to test it and see if it’s worth expanding into other industries on the islands.
The Bodden Town MLA earlier criticized a jobs drive in the local tourism industry that resulted in only a few Caymanian applicants being placed in jobs. Mr. Suckoo had suggested CITA’s jobs drive was a “deliberate attempt to discredit Caymanians and justify using cheap labor.”
CITA officials were shocked by the allegations concerning the voluntary jobs initiative that involved industry executives and human resources employees giving up their time in a collaboration with the National Workforce Development Agency.
Saturday’s press release from the premier’s office indicated that the tourism industry job drive would be “redefined with an effective communication plan agreed in advance.”
The government said it would also seek to ensure that all students trained at the School of Hospitality Studies at the University College of the Cayman Islands would be placed in jobs in the Cayman Islands tourism sector, and that all returning students in the hospitality field should have either an internship or a job offer in place upon their return to the islands.
The press release indicated that Ken Hydes, the outgoing Cayman Islands Tourism Association president, would support the effort to revamp and restart the jobs drive effort.