The 3,396 people who are currently receiving the government’s $1,500-a-month tourism stipend are now required to register with the Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman department, Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan announced today.
Speaking at a press conference to unveil plans to remobilise the tourism workforce, in preparation for the reopening of Cayman’s borders, Bryan said it will be mandatory for all stipend recipients, including those who are currently employed, to register by 16 Aug.
Asked if anyone who fails to register will lose their stipend, the minister responded, “It is mandatory, please don’t make me have to make any decisions in that respect.”
If people do not register, Bryan said, he would discuss with his government colleagues whether any penalties would need to be implemented.
The survey also showed that just over half – 51% – the recipients had indicated that they are presently employed, mostly in the tourism industry, but also in construction, retail or other fields. Of those, 74% said they were working fewer than 30 hours a week.
Bryan said the purpose of the mandatory registration was to get a better understanding of the Caymanian labour market. “We’re not here to try to stop you from getting assistance, we just need to understand, to make the right decisions.”
The date of 16 Aug. has been set as the registration deadline, to allow time for those displaced workers who sign up with WORC to be matched with available jobs, and to go undergo training if necessary, before Phase 4 of the government’s reopening plan on 14 Oct. From that date, quarantine for securely verifiable vaccinated travellers is scheduled to be dropped, if Cayman has reached its 80% vaccination target for the local population.
A soft reopening on 9 Sept. will bring a limited number of tourists to Cayman, who will still be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Matching displaced workers with jobs
The Department of Tourism, WORC and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association are working together to place Caymanian workers in positions within the hotel, restaurant and water-sport industries, with efforts to match unemployed or underemployed individuals with jobs, the panel at the press conference noted.
Data from CITA about available jobs and from WORC about available workers will be cross-referenced in an effort to place Caymanians in suitable positions, Laura Watler, WORC acting director said.
Speaking at the press conference, Watler said this approach will enable Caymanians to find long-term employment within the tourism industry.
Bryan said CITA, which represents more 300 companies, had identified at least 1,500 jobs that needed to be filled, from entry level to management positions.
CITA president Marc Langevin said its members were committed to making a “genuine effort in recruiting, training and building the strong foundation necessary to ensure the continued success of Caymanians in our tourism industry”.
He added that he hoped that this initiative would “set the path for genuine collaboration in the difficult path ahead in our full reopening and recovery preparations”.
The government plans to give additional staffing resources to WORC to handle the registration of local tourism workers, as well as the processing of work permit applications for tourism jobs, Bryan said.
Government has previously announced that the stipend would continue to be $1,500 until October, and in November and December, on the premise that Cayman’s tourism product will be recovering by then, that will be reduced to $750 a month.
In the survey, 36% of respondents, or 1,107 people, had indicated they had previously worked in the cruise industry. With cruise tourism not expected to make a return to Cayman until next year, Bryan said government would look at whether to continue offering financial assistance beyond the end of this year to those displaced workers who are unable to find jobs in the stayover tourism industry.
He added, “I can promise the country that after December 31st, there will be an assessment process as to whether you are genuinely in need of that money. For now, until December, it is going to stay the way it is.”
As well as being able to register with WORC online at https://jobs.worc.gov.ky, the department will be holding registration and job-matching drives in the various districts across Cayman. The first one will be held tomorrow, Friday, 6 Aug., from 9am to 6pm, at the East End Civic Centre. Registration can also be done in person at the WORC office.