Fewer than 100 Caymanians with university degrees who are unemployed are currently registered with the National Workforce Development Agency, government officials confirmed Monday.
Ministry of Employment deputy chief officer Tasha Ebanks Garcia said this does not necessarily represent all local degree-holding graduates who are out of work since those individuals are not required to register.
However, Ms. Ebanks Garcia said the ministry will put a policy in place by September that will require all government scholarship recipients to register with the NWDA – which operates as government’s employment agency – in order to track their progress when they come back to Cayman.
Ms. Ebanks Garcia’s statements were made in response to North Side MLA Ezzard Miller’s comment Monday that it was a “statistical fact” that many Caymanians who complete their education at university on government scholarships are now unemployed.
According to workforce development agency statistics, as of last month, there are 11 Caymanians with master’s degrees unemployed and registered with the agency. There are 43 with bachelor’s [four-year] degrees and 28 who have associate degrees who are without work.
Employment Minister Tara Rivers also pointed out during the discussion Monday in Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee that the NWDA had placed 239 people registered with the agency in jobs between July 2015 and last month.
“There is progress as it relates to the National Workforce Development Agency assisting people,” Minister Rivers said.
This progress is not translating to constituents in the George Town area, MLA Winston Connolly said.
“I’m getting a number of people who are highly qualified … they’ve said that they’ve applied for more than 50 jobs in the last two months and have not yet even gotten a response,” Mr. Connolly said. He asked how government would address Caymanian job seekers who “feel that no one is looking out for them.”
The workforce development agency has attempted to keep better track of the results of local job applications since 2014, but as of now, local employers are not required to register their available positions with the NWDA. Many companies choose to voluntarily register their positions.
If the employer does register with the agency, Ms. Ebanks Garcia said, Immigration Department and workforce agency staff can see information regarding all individuals who have applied for the position.
Any decision to award a job to a particular person is up to the employer, she said. However, Cayman Islands Immigration Law requires any company to hire a suitably qualified Caymanian for an available position first. In cases where violations are reported, the NWDA registration system would provide more information regarding specific cases, Ms. Ebanks Garcia said.
“The system itself will not assess the suitability of a person for a post,” she added. Minister Rivers said the system gets rid of the “he said, she said” aspect of local job applications that now exists when a Caymanian states he or she has applied for a position but not been hired.
“Before, you heard about people applying for jobs and those applications falling into the file with no ability to see who has applied,” Minister Rivers said.
A proposal to make registering all private sector jobs with the NWDA mandatory will go before the Cabinet in the next four weeks, Ms. Ebanks Garcia said. It will be up to elected leaders to decide whether they accept those plans, she said.