The Cayman Compass recently published two interesting articles on Dec. 8, 2016; one reported on a student job fair and the other on the stabilization of work permit numbers. It occurs to me that these two articles have at their root one problem affecting the Cayman Islands – the lack of available vocational training.
The Compass reported that over 500 students attended the career fair; I can only assume this number represents the number of new job-seekers soon to be entering the workplace. My concern is how many of these individuals will be able to find employment and what is the fate of those who do not find employment? In my experience, new job-seekers all tend to seek out the same type of employment which further exacerbates the problem of job scarcity. I believe this problem is recognized by government, as Education Minister Tara Rivers stated in the work fair article that “ … it is important for students to connect with employers from industries they may not have previously considered.”
I would suggest to Minister Rivers that the students are unable to consider industries they may not have previously considered because they do not have the skills these industries require.
I would like to see the Cayman Islands develop a Vocational Training Centre where people (including new graduates) can develop marketable skills in the trades that are in demand in Cayman. What better way for students to connect with employers from industry than to provide the very skills these industries are seeking? It is my belief that currently, the graduating student does not possess the skills to fit the criteria that the majority of industries require. This point is further exemplified by Cayman Academy Principal Mr. O’Neil Duncan who stated in the job fair article that “ … many students are not prepared for life after graduation.”
It is my position that producing a workforce without marketable skills will create a negative impact on society. This impact will be exemplified by loss of self-worth in the unemployed, crime by the financially desperate and recidivism by the unemployable ex-convict returning to society.
I have personal experience with this lack of available vocational experience. I am currently incarcerated in Northward prison where I am completing a three-year sentence. During my time of incarceration I have not had the opportunity to learn any vocational skills. Nor will I have this opportunity upon my release. This lack of vocational training means that I will continue to have limited marketability to the Caymanian employer.
I worry, what are the available options to other released convicts seeking employment? If we truly wish to reduce crime in Cayman and prevent recidivism, then providing the means for gainful employment is paramount. Obviously this is not an issue that just affects the released convict, but society as a whole, if we wish to prevent crime.
Unemployment affecting Caymanians in the Cayman Islands is a major concern for the government, and yet the article on work permit numbers stabilizing reports “just less than 24,000 non-Caymanians were employed here as of early December.” Why do we require so many work permit holders? My answer would be that there is a profound lack of skills and qualifications to be found in the general Cayman population.
A Vocational Training Centre would help provide job skills to the newly graduated (from both high school and Northward) and lower our need for expatriate workers.