Something great happened because of my previous letter

I am writing as a follow up to my “Letter to the Editor” of Sept. 9, 2016 along with the editorial in yesterday’s newspaper. I believe this follow up is critical because something great happened as a result of this letter being published.

Our interview process continued and extended past the deadline, due to the fact that we received emails from young Caymanians saying they had read the letter and were inspired to apply. Their resumes were attached to well-worded emails or cover letters. We had people drop by the store and let us know they agreed with our comments and asked if they could submit their resume.

Prior to the letter being published, we had exactly 26.7 percent of people who set up interviews not show up. Since the letter was published, only one person has failed to show. A very special mention must be made of the young man who showed up for an “entry level” job interview. This young Caymanian was on time, introduced himself and immediately stated that he had read the letter, and standing there in his three-piece suit, told us he wanted us to know that not all Caymanians were as we had experienced with some. Yes, he was overdressed, but he did so to stand out, and that he did. Needless to say, the interview went well and this well spoken and well prepared young man will have a job with Buy $mart.

As I said in my original letter and will repeat, it is not my intent, nor do I believe we should ever “paint everyone with the same brush,” and the interviewees since Friday have proved this as well as some before. To those comments on a Facebook post I read suggesting this is a ploy to get work permits approved, nothing could be further from the truth. For the record, of the 100-plus interviews we have set up and 80-plus completed, about 10 percent were with individuals holding Right to Work and the balance were Caymanians and I DO NOT plan on changing our company goal. We have received a high number of resumes from individuals on permit or requiring one and those applicants have not received an interview. This is not to say that at store level we will never have individuals on a permit, but I do firmly believe that we can find Caymanians that have experience or can be trained and will bring a positive and professional attitude to our new business.

As a business, we will not lower our expectations and we will provide the coaching required to our new team members in order to provide the best customer experience with the best local employees. When our customers come into Buy $mart we hope they will see a difference and the staff and I will be proud in knowing that the reason and only reason we are all there is because we earned the right to be there.

If our experiences are representative of the average employer I cannot say. Have I violated an unwritten but well-understood rule about doing business in the Cayman Islands, and should I fear retribution? I do hope not because as employers, we all have an obligation to speak up and “be involved” in changing the situation for the better. This can’t happen without talking about the problem. Let’s move together to prepare our available and future workforce because it is clear that addressing the concerns makes a difference. In particular, let’s ensure young Caymanians are prepared for an international job market, because that is exactly what we now have in Cayman.

Michael Allen
Buy $mart
Galleria Plaza