Many expatriates living in the Cayman Islands who have children know the challenges of finding space for them in the private schools here.
For some, it can be a disqualifying factor in deciding whether to work in the islands.
Will Koutney, a recruitment consultant for CML, an international recruiting firm, said the problem is very real.
“Right at the moment, I have a call scheduled,” he said, with a company considering hiring one of his clients. “The reason they haven’t hired yet is the candidate, this mom, had a 7-year-old boy and couldn’t get into a school.”
Mr. Koutney said the company was considering having the woman work from her current London home for the next year, hopeful that she will be able to enroll her son in the fall of 2019.
While the issue is not a daily challenge, it does come up periodically, he said, and he’s seeing it more often. In the past, a client might complain about not being able to get their child into the school of choice.
“We never used to hear that one kid just couldn’t get in school,” he said.
He said he often discourages candidates for whom it may be a problem.
“A lot of times we put people off if they have a family.”
The reason is twofold, he said. One is the school issue; the other is that, often, the amount of income being offered in the financial sector for young workers is not sufficient to support a family.
“If you have a husband and wife with two kids and the collective income isn’t $200,000 or more, it’s going to be tough,” Mr. Koutney said, adding that private school tuitions typically run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
Most of the people he recruits, he said, are single.
Michele Aubert is managing director for Affinity Recruitment. She said 95 percent of her candidates are single, so it’s not often a problem, but she knows it can be for others.
“I’ve heard stories,” she said.
Some of those stories affect even large companies. In a statement, Juliet Du Feu, senior vice president of human resources at Dart Enterprises, said the issue is hampering recruitment efforts.
“The lack of available school spaces, particularly in Cayman’s primary schools, has already begun to impact our ability to recruit candidates with children of school age,” Ms. Du Feu said. “It is an issue we have experienced ourselves, and one we have heard anecdotally from other businesses who, on occasion, need to recruit from overseas.”
Cayman International School, which is housed in buildings provided by Dart Realty, is planning an expansion in the coming year, adding space for nearly 500 more students.
Such additions, said Dan Scott, managing partner at financial firm EY Cayman, are needed. Without them, he expects the problem will only grow with time.
“Many of the people we’re recruiting are not necessarily coming with families,” Mr. Scott said. “We don’t have an acute issue today, but if it’s affecting others, it’s going to affect us.”
Growing the private schools is the obvious answer, he said.
“There’s no question in my mind that there is far more need for capacity in the schools,” he said. “It’s such a no-brainer.”