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.”)