EDITORIAL – Gov’t slanders Cayman’s professionals

Faced with a set of sobering facts they discovered themselves – namely, that 98 percent of job-seekers assessed by the National Workforce Development Agency are “not work-ready” – Cayman Islands government officials resorted to Plan A: Deflect, spin and blame the media.

In response to grim but accurate headlines about the unpreparedness of nearly all of NWDA’s full-service clients, Ministry of Employment Deputy Chief Officer Tasha Ebanks Garcia sought out the nearest CIGTV camera and made a short video, posted online, toeing the government line.

Here’s the issue: For the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Employment report, the NWDA conducted in-depth assessments of 139 of its clients, who have availed themselves of the agency’s full range of services. The NWDA found that 98 percent of those clients had two or more serious barriers to gaining employment, such as insufficient education, illiteracy or substance abuse.

Ms. Ebanks Garcia is attempting to dismiss those results as pertaining only to “a small segment” of NWDA clients and therefore not indicative of the unemployed Caymanian population as a whole.

Her assertion contains at least three critical flaws.

First, by effectively protesting that the government’s statistics are unreliable, she is undermining the credibility of the entire inter-ministerial report.

Second, those 139 people who were assessed represent a full 12 percent of the total unemployed Caymanian population (about 1,200 people). That’s a healthy chunk; not “a small segment.”

Third, and most importantly, neither Ms. Ebanks Garcia, nor anyone, has any idea about the work-readiness of unemployed people who were not assessed – because they were not assessed.

If you need an example of an entity contorting evidence to fit an agenda, or flat-out making stuff up about Cayman’s overblown “unemployment problem,” don’t look to the pages of the Compass – look inside the government’s inter-ministerial report.

Here are some choice excerpts from a section about “institutional discrimination, ethnic and/or cultural bias”:

Though scientific research into this area appears lacking, anecdotal feedback suggests that this is particularly experienced in the Financial Sector, one of the pillars of the economy.” (emphasis ours)

“For example expatriate lawyers may be encouraged not to work with Caymanian secretaries, and shunned if they do so. Expatriate secretaries may be encouraged not to be too social with Caymanians and find that ignoring that warning may affect their career prospects. It is further exacerbated by tokenism where an “acceptable” Caymanian is elevated within the organization but often without having real power.”

“Tokenism blocks the aspirations of young Caymanians by sustaining exclusionary practices.”

“The perpetuation of exclusionary practices is reliant upon the dominant ethnic group in any institution preserving their power base. Therefore, the dismantling of exclusionary practices is reliant upon the dominant ethnic group either voluntarily relinquishing some of that power, or being coerced or compelled to do so.”

“Some of the mechanisms that may address these issues will therefore include stronger employment legislation that clearly defines exclusionary practices and gives authority to external auditors or inspectors to review policies, procedures and working conditions.”

According to the government, Cayman’s financial sector is a hotbed of active discrimination, on the part of “the dominant ethnic group” (presumably referring to a homogeneous bloc of “non-Caymanians,” who actually comprise scores of disparate nationalities, cultures and races from across the globe) against the clear plurality of Caymanians, including the myriad of managers, directors and partners who, if the report is to be believed, are apparently victims of “tokenism” and have been merely masquerading as successful business professionals.

Government’s solution? Heavy-handed government intervention, of course.

This is a serious assault by the government against the most important part of this country’s economy, particularly when the accusations are based, admittedly, not on “scientific research,” but “anecdotal feedback” – i.e., gossip.

This is how government officials view the professionals who constitute the country’s preeminent industry: As a coterie of racist, anti-Caymanian bigots, in need of interventional policing.

If we were one of those financial services professionals, and we were inclined to lodge a formal complaint against such calumny, we know the first person we’d call … Who better than the public face of the report and its interpreter-in-chief?

(Dial 244-2417. Ask for “Dr. Tasha.”)

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. Digging in into the center of this report I will comment briefly on the paragraph which says that “Expatriate Lawyers maybe encouraged not to work with with Caymanian secretaries” and shunned if they do so. Then Expatriate secretaries are also not encouraged to work with Caymanians. Ye know something, in plain English “THIS IS SICKENING” and Whose fault is this??? The Caymanian of course. I have been there and done that. These Lawyers stick to their own pubs and bounds, so why are the secretaries going their hang-out to wine and dine with them. How many of them you see supporting Archies, Sea Inn, five dollar or four dollar oxtail stew? But Caymanians are running tabs at Pubs and restaurants on the west Bay road paying the bill and their children don’t have lunch money. Stop buying love and friendship. The Caymanian men are picking up the tabs. The Caymanian secretaries are footing the bills for the draft beers and the finger food. I have been amongst the good bad and the ugly and see it happening. I do not blame the Expatriates,, Drink and eat una out and shun when necessary; and mind you I am a straight speaking woman, like me or like me not. So Caymanians it is about time you learn the hard way.

  2. I find it astonishing that an official Government report can repeat the marl road slanders that we hear on the talk shows every day.In the real world i.e. the financial sector, employees are subject to annual appraisal reports which are not subjective but have to be supported by actual facts. I worked in a major local bank for 35 years and never came across the racial discrimination referred to. If there are Caymanians who feel discriminated against let them produce their appraisal reports and I feel confident that lack of job progression will be directly linked to inferior job performance.
    During my tenure we promoted many Caymanian staff who thoroughly deserved it, and for Government to insinuate this is tokenism is preposterous.

    As for the statement that “expatriate secretaries may be encouraged not to be too social with Caymanians as ignoring the warning will be detrimental to their job prospects” this raises the question whether anything the author of this report says, can be taken seriously.

  3. I write to commend the Compass Editorial Board for two things. First, for calling the government official out on such a weak analysis of an important study. If she is so dismissive of the government’s own study, how can she be counted on to move forward to address the problems? Second, I believe this is the strongest criticism of the government you have put forward since they pulled advertising from the Compass and you reached an agreement to end the dispute. Welcome back to your role as a true watchdog!

  4. Roger I am sure much in that report may have tweaked your nerves, and even due to the fact, like you said , have worked in a major local bank for 35 years.
    I am one of those person who like to speak of a person how I find them, not by someone else opinion of them, because to speak frankly and truthfully, Roger, I found you to be a very honest hard working Englishman who came to Cayman and settled here. You may had appeared to some; and displayed the usual stuck up Englishman style, but really getting to know you; underneath that you are a perfect gentleman, who loves his family. Sometimes it only takes a moment to smile and say Hello, and suddenly the other person is not as bad as we may think they are. I do hope many would let down their guard and use their wings to cover each other. Times have changed and we need much love these days.