Drive to help unemployed

| 10/02/2009

(CNS): On the first day of its island-wide job drive, the Department of Employment Relations (DER) registered around fifty people who were not in work and seeking jobs. The drive started in East End and surprised staff with the number of people who came out to get help. “We even had people already waiting at the door when we arrived,” said Deputy Director Jennifer Smith. With the recession beginning to bite, unemployment is rising and the DER currently has 860 people registered as jobseekers.

The department is now reaching out in an attempt to help everyone who has not yet registered with them to get help finding employment. Smith said that the first day revealed a true cross section of new people, from insurance sales to IT professionals, some of which had been laid off and others who had recently left their jobs.

“We have had a lot of different people, some skilled and some not,” she said. “We are trying very hard to help everyone. For some of the young people registering, however, we are trying to direct them towards study as it will be hard for them to find work without a full education.”

She explained that there was plenty of funding available for all young Caymanians wanting to go to college and they should try and take advantage of it. In the case of some of the more experienced workers, Smith said the DER was able to help them straight away and more than ten people were given immediate referrals from its job bank.

Today (Tuesday, 10 February) the job drive moves to West Bay, where DER staff will be at John Gray Church Hall between 2-7 pm. On Wednesday the team will be in North Side, Bodden Town on Thursday and at the Chamber Job Fair at the University College of the Cayman Islands on Friday and Saturday.  

Smith said it was important that anyone coming to register brought their resumes, educational certificates, passport or birth certificate, written references, proof of Caymanian status or right to work, police record and drivers licence. If they did they could register immediately. It would be possible to match candidates to the job bank as with the help of new technology they have all of the details of the vacancies at their fingertips.

The department workswith around 1500 local employers and has a considerable number of vacancies in the job bank, and the idea behind the drive is to offer people living outside of George Town access to those jobs.

“We invite jobseekers to come out, talk to us and begin the registration process so that we can begin the effort of helping them to become gainfully employed,” said DER Head Lonny Tibbetts, and he called for employers with vacancies not yet listed with the DER to make contact as well.

With around 27,000 work permits issued in the job market, the DER also works with the Work Permit Board. Tibbetts explained that the department prepares a report  for each WPB meeting listing unemployed persons registered with the DER who can perform the job for which the work permit is being sought.

“The goal of this exercise is to enable the WPB to make an informed decision. When there are persons available, the WPB may defer the grant of the WP and refer the employer to the DER for suitable Caymanian candidates. Presently the Immigration Law permits the Director, or his appointee, to sit on the WPB and present the summary of each report,” he said.

Since last year the department has assisted more than 450 Caymanians to get jobs, but Smith noted that a match does not mean automatic employment. “We give them the connection and the opportunity, and then it is up to them to take that a step further,” she added, but she said the staff at DER do all they can to advise and help job seekers how to present themselves at interviews. She said the two things that were hindering Caymanians in finding work was not presenting themselves properly to employers and being under-skilled.

“We train persons in preparing resumes and job interview skills, and we guide them on proper work ethics, in order that they can keep jobs they get in the future,” she said.  

DER also works closely with the Immigration Department to ensure that Caymanians are not discriminated against in the workforce and that work permits are only issued when there are no qualified Caymanians to fill specific positions. Smith noted, however, that being Caymanian is not an entitlement to work and that they need to have a professional approach to job hunting.

All job drive sessions run from 2-7p.m and the schedule is as follows.

East End: Monday, 9 February, at East End Civic Centre

West Bay: Tuesday, 10 February, at John Gray Church Hall

North Side: Wednesday, 11 February, at North Side Civic Centre

Bodden Town: Thursday, 12 February, at Bodden Town Civic Centre

George Town: Friday, 13 & Saturday, 14 February at UCCI.

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