Premier Alden McLaughlin has described Caymanian unemployment as the “Achilles’ heel” of his administration and called for a “sea change” in approach from the business community.
In a new year’s message to the public, he said that the private sector needs to make more effort to take on Caymanians, and warned, “The time for excuses has passed.”
Mr. McLaughlin cited the turnout for government’s temporary Christmas work program, in which some 700 people registered for temporary work cleaning up the community, as evidence of high numbers of unemployed Caymanians ready and willing to work.
Focusing on the achievements of the government, he said it has restored Cayman’s public finances and investor confidence and created jobs. He said the economy is rebounding, and more employment opportunities are on the way through new hotel developments.
But he acknowledged, “What is not happening to the degree that is necessary is employment of Caymanians.”
He said a local unemployment rate of 8.3 percent is unacceptably high and his administration would push to bring this down. But he said there is little they could do without cooperation from the private sector.
“The unemployment level of Caymanians is just too high in an economy that is expanding and where there is clear evidence of significant job creation.
“Since this administration took office in May 2013, work permit numbers have increased from about 17,000 to 22,000 presently. Yet Caymanian unemployment remains stubbornly high. Something is very wrong with this equation,” he said.
“While we must acknowledge that there are significant issues that stand in the way of employment for some Caymanians, this is simply not the case for most Caymanians.”
He said businesses had become more reluctant over the last decade to give local people a chance. He said he had met with the Chamber of Commerce and representatives from the hospitality industry to explain government’s expectations on hiring local.
“There needs to be a sea change in the business community where businesses are more willing to take on Caymanians who don’t meet precisely all of their employment requirements and train them.
“The great push over the course of the balance of this term is to deal with what I consider the Achilles’ heel of this administration – Caymanian unemployment – and to get as many of our people back into good jobs.”