Focus must be on employing Caymanians

During this election season, the perennial issue of securing jobs for Caymanians remains high on the agenda. When COVID hit, it was hoped that Caymanians could get into the jobs left by work-permit holders who had left. But it seems that this has not happened to any noticeable extent and the jury is still out as to whether the efforts of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman will bear fruit.

Supplementary efforts seem to be necessary. An amendment to regulation 6(1) of the Immigration Regulations, which can be done by Cabinet, is necessary. That regulation says that when an application for a work permit is made, the immigration board “may” ask for details regarding the training of Caymanians and succession planning. Changing this to “shall” is likely to be more effective. Efforts to change this have been resisted.

Also, section 26(1)(f) of the Public Service Management Law provides that if the qualifications of two or more people “rank broadly at the same level, Caymanians shall be given preference”. This does not give Caymanians any real advantage. What is needed is a provision that says that if a Caymanian qualifies, they must be appointed even if there is a non-Caymanian who has better qualifications, unless the Caymanian has particular deficiencies. That is what other countries do. Indeed, if the person is already in that particular entity, they should be promoted without the job being advertised, or there must be an internal advertisement.

The reader may remember that it was originally declared by government that rollover was to apply also to government. But the usual scare tactics resulted in the policy being withdrawn. Thus, the civil service, already bloated with recipients of premature mass grants of status, now could not roll over anybody. Some of those have now established little empires systematically keeping Caymanians down.

My point is that if successive governments cannot legislatively make significant changes with respect to government, they should stop complaining about the private sector, which is more difficult to police, even with an amendment to section 6(1) of the Immigration Regulations.

 Bilika Simamba

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