Archive for September, 2014

UCCI expands classes with Penn State hook-up

| 30/09/2014 | 0 Comments

The University College of the Cayman Islands is using technology to increase learning opportunities for its students. The college has entered into an on-line partnership with Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus to ensure students can take specialist course that may otherwise be too costly or keep up with classes that are cut locally because of low student numbers.  “At UCCI we are always seeking to build strategic alliances, both locally and internationally, so as to afford our students opportunities to access the best learning experiences available,” UCCI President Roy Bodden said.

He said the local college’s size should not impeded students’ access to excellent educational opportunities. The on-line access to Penn course can also help working adults who may want to update their knowledge or skills.
This alliance synchronises with UCCI’s 10th charter year as a University College offering graduate, undergraduate, technical, and professional training in the Cayman Islands.

“It has always been my vision to compensate for the constraints of size, financial affordability and changing technologies by developing relationships with institutions on the cutting edge of educational developments,” Bodden added. “Building alliances with reputable institutions such as Penn State affords UCCI students access to their resources, reputation and academic integrity which a small institution like UCCI would normally find as being unaffordable and unsustainable.”

To learn more about the UCCI-approved courses available through Penn State’s World Campus, existing students should check with their advisors or department heads. Non-students may contact UCCI’s Admissions Office by calling (345) 623-0507

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NWDA should do permits

| 30/09/2014 | 34 Comments

(CNS): The immigration department should be concentrating on border control the employment minister and her councillor have stated. Although Tara Rivers admitted that transitioning the National Workforce Development Agency to deal with the recruitment process for permit applications would require a considerable amount of work and resources, she said it was something she would hope to achieve during her tenure. Speaking at a presentation Friday at the NWDA about the progress at the agency, Winston Connolly the councillor in the ministry said he believed that there should be a very clear role for immigration which was border control and not recruitment.

As a result of the massive demand for overseas workers in the Cayman Islands the Immigration department has, by default, immerged as the government’s recruitment agency making the final decision on every foreign worker who has been recruited for all jobs from gardeners to bankers, as well as dealing with enforcement issues.
Connolly said however, that he believed it was clear that immigration should be concerned only with the security questions surrounding imported workers.

“Immigration should be about border control and the NWDA should be the central body that deals with the employment, training and the work permit side of things in terms of people coming in and applying for jobs,” he said. Pointing to what he said was a lot of room for growth at the agency, he said, given the right financing and personnel it should deal with all of the recruitment side of things leaving immigration to police the borders. “It should be two clear roles,” he added.

The minister supported the comments of her councillor and C4C political colleague but said that while that was the goal it was up to her as minister to try and address the immediate needs of the unemployed now. Transitioning the NWDA as the clearing house for permits would require new legislation and a government restructure.

“That’s where we need to get to but we need to make sure we don’t just have that as the goal and don’t address the immediate needs now,” she said. But Rivers agreed that with the commitment and support from wider government and if legislation could be prioritized in the bottle neck of drafting it would be possible to reshape the way permits are handled.

She said she was tasked with working with the mechanisms and infrastructure that are currently in place and to make those work best for local people looking for work and for business trying to get the right people. The minster stated that there was recognition that government can’t work in silos and as a result a cross ministerial committee had been formed so everyone was working on the battle to address local unemployment.

With the goal of a one stop shop for recruitment and permit process still an ideal rather than a reality she said it was important in the meantime to create what she described as “better synergies” between the immigration department and the NWDA.

“Previously there was no nexus between NWDA and immigration so I am thrilled to be the minister responsible that has done that,” she conceded that there was still work to do but that communication link alone was a great improvement.

The minister said however that government had to examine where the regulation of employment law is best placed and to shift it all to the NWDA would have to be a decision made by all of government. In the interim she said that five new enforcement officers announced by the premier last year are currently being recruited but there was still no start date for these individuals. Acknowledging some of the problems and barriers faced by the unemployed she said companies can and should be doing a lot more to train their staff.

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Girls’ football moves to Saturday mornings

| 30/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CUC-GPFL): The ‘new’ Girls’ Primary Football League (GPFL), which is scheduled to begin this Saturday, October 4th, will be sponsored and coordinated by Caribbean Utilities Company, Ltd. (CUC). The GPFL will runalongside the popular CUC Primary Football League (PFL). Several primary schools across the Island have been participating in the GPFL for the past few years but with CUC now taking responsibility for the League, it was decided to move the games from during the week to Saturday mornings. The girls’ games will now be played at 10:00 a.m. between the CUC Primary Football League (PFL) Under 9 games that begin at 9:00 a.m. and the Under 11 games scheduled for 11:00 a.m.

The PFL Committee has been working closely with Martha Godet and representatives from the Women’s Committee who have been designated by the Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) to develop the women’s game in the Cayman Islands. In certain instances, the Women’s Committee has provided personnel to assist with coaching a few of the school teams and will strive to provide female referees to officiate the GPFL games.

The decision to move the games to Saturday mornings was aimed at assisting the Women’s Committee in monitoring young female players playing at the primary school level. In addition, the Saturday morning games gives parents the chance to watch and support their daughters, something that was very difficult for them to do when games were being played during school hours on weekdays.

The GPFL will cater to girls under the age of 11 and will follow similar rules that apply to the PFL Under 9 league. Participating schools are split into the same two divisions as the PFL with Group A consisting of Cayman International School, George Town Primary, Savannah Primary, Sir John A. Cumber Primary and St. Ignatius Prep. Group B includes Bodden Town Primary, Cayman Prep, NorthEast School, Prospect Primary, Red Bay Primary and Triple C.
The PFL Committee urges everyone to come out on Saturday mornings to the various primary schools and other venues across the Island and support these young PFL and GPFL players.

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Public concerned over fly tipping in Barkers

| 29/09/2014 | 61 Comments

(CNS): Although the Department of Environmental Health is endeavouring to keep on top of the fly-tipping around the island, pictures taken by CNS on Monday following information from readers showed that some people are still confusing Barkers National Park with Mount Trashmore. Old washing machines, dishwashers, feed bags, beer cans, oil containers, old carpets and bursting garbage bags were just some of the rubbish tipped on the park’s main road just yards from the no littering sign. Although the police are responsible for enforcing the law when people break it the already hard pressed DoEH has to clear away the unsightly mess at one of Cayman’s favourite beauty spots. Police say they are aware of the problems of fly tipping and plan to prosecute anyone they catch in the act.

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Basic wage report delayed

| 29/09/2014 | 53 Comments

(CNS): Plans to consider the introduction of a minimum wage in the Cayman Islands have been delayed again as a report which was expected to have been completed before the end of October has been delayed until at least the end of February. A committee was formed to look into the minimum wage rate in June of this year, three months after the government rejected a private member's motion to introduce a minimum wage of at least $5. However, officials from the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) said Friday that their report would not be ready for Cabinet’s consideration until early in 2015 as the committee said it needs more time to consider the ideal rate.

The PPM campaigned on the introduction of a basic wage as a priority but the current employment minister, who ran on the Coalition for Cayman ticket, has appeared reluctant to push the issue.

“The government is following process of law and have convened a minimum wage committee,” Rivers said on Friday. She said the committee was trying to determine what the wage should be and had asked for an extension. Working with an international labour expert, she said that the more the committee examined the issue the more variables were raised. The minister described the issue as “a real sinkhole” that had the potential to be increasingly complicated.

However, with local wages appearing to be falling despite inflation and the pressure from imported cheap labour pushing  down rates further, many people believe that the introduction of a minimum wage is an essential element in the fight to reduce Caymanian unemployment.

Rivers, however said that the committee had to assess the different price points and the implications of those to address exploitation on the one hand and encourage job opportunities on the other. She said she was confident that the report would be complete for Cabinet’s consideration by February.

This means that low-paid workers or locals who are being pushed out of the labour market because of the falling wages won’t be given any relief anytime soon and there are growing concerns that the longer Cayman avoids implementing a minimum wage, imported cheap labour will continue to fuel local unemployment.

With many workers in Cayman still being paid less than $5 per hour, it is foreign nationals holding work-permits that are suffering the most and, many believe, causing Cayman, with one of the highest GDPs in the world, to import poverty.

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NWDA can’t enforce job ads

| 29/09/2014 | 31 Comments

(CNS): Policing the content of recruitment advertisements that seem tailored for permit holders (sometihng that has been causing the community concern) is down to the immigration department and not the government’s National Workforce Development Agency, officials have confirmed. They also revealed that the immigration law does not require employers seeking work permits to list those positions with the agency. Despite the pressures on government over local unemployment while more than 20,250 overseas workers currently reside in Cayman on permits, the agency tasked with assisting the jobless is limited in what it can do regarding work permit regime infringements.

However, the employment minister and the ministry’s deputy chief officer both pointed out that communication between the immigration boards and the agency has vastly improve in the last few months as a result of the on-line connection to the NWDA job database.

Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia revealed Friday that only 800 job seekers from an estimated 1900 or so unemployed people are registered with the agency but their details are now available for immigration officials to see and the immigration boards now know when Caymanians have applied for positions. As a result more permits are being deferred while employers justify why they are declining local applicants. With the assistance of technology people can also browse the NWDA agency site without formally registering and apply for the positions directly and the boards can see where that has occurred on-line.

During a presentation and tour of the agency, which has undergone a significant transformation from the old job unit at the department of labour, for the press Friday, staff from the NWDA explained that they want more people to register to give them a better picture of the jobless situation and to help those seeking work find it.

Employment Minister Tara Rivers said the agency had made great strides in recent months and while there is still more to be done the team has grown and the interface between the NWDA and the immigration boards is starting to make a difference.

Rivers pointed out that it was a campaign promise of hers and most other candidates to address the problems regarding the NWDA and to see the department function as intended, which is to train and develop the local workforce to match the needs of the labour market.
As well as matching job-seekers to vacancies, the agency is focusing heavily on training to remove the barriers unemployed people face in their job search, from a lack of relevant skills to what Ebanks-Garcia described as 'soft skills', such as people’s attitudes towards work and meeting employers' expectations.

Having previously noted her concerns about the kind of advertisements for jobs which relate to existing permits, the minister explained that although the NWDA can’t enforce the immigration law in that respect, the improvements that have taken place at the agency in recent months give the boards more relevant information to help them make better decisions about permits. She said the five additional enforcement officers which were budgeted for by the home affairs ministry are currently being recruited and they will be responsible for enforcing the rules relating to the efforts employers make to find local workers.

Under the immigration law, employers are required to make the “best efforts” to recruit locally before turning to permits, and while the agency can’t force an employer to list work-permit jobs with it, with the kind of information now directly available to the boards at the click of a mouse, employers are under more pressure to comply and justify their recruitment practices.

“Where employers don’t do more … the boards are now more inclined to ask questions,” the minister stated.

Rivers noted that in the end it should be the NWDA that deals with all of the issues relating to recruitment and not immigration and this was a goal she hoped to accomplish during her tenure as minister, but until that major transformation could take place she had to tackle the situation within the current legislative framework.

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Webster murder case adjourned for 5 weeks

| 29/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Jose Guadelupe Sanchez (27) made his first Grand Court appearance, Friday, facing charges of murder and possession of an unlicensed firearm for the killing of Solomon Webster. The crown say Sanchez is the man who gunned down Webster on Sunday7 September in Miss Daisy Lane, West Bay at around 8-30pm. The 24 year old Special Olympic gold medal winner was shot in the groin and died in hospital as a result of his wound later that night. Sanchez has not yet answered the charges and his local attorney Guy Dilliway-Parry asked for a five week adjournment to discuss the case with his client and to look at the possibility of instructing leading counsel.

Although the incident occurred in what is known as the local Logwoods gang’s neighbourhood the police have stated that they have no reason to believe that Webster’s killing was gang related.

In addition to the murder charge laid against Sanchez two other men have also been charged with accessory after the fact as they are alleged to have assisted Sanchez to evade the authorities in the wake of the shooting. Graham David Lauer aged 60 and 30 year old Blake Christopher Barrell were both granted bail in the summary court recently.
Sanchez appeared in Grand Court Friday via video link and is currently remanded in custody to HMP Northward.

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Psych report sought for man accused of brutal attack

| 29/09/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A Bodden Town man accused of trying to kill his wife in a violent machete attack last month will see a psychiatrist before he answers the charges a court confirmed Friday. George Vaughan (42) who tried to take his own life after the assault on his wife, who works as a civil servant with the NRA, needed to undergo an evaluation regarding his state of mind in relation to the attack he allegedly perpetrated, his defence attorney told the court. Denis Brady asked for a five week adjournment in the case in order for the mental health assessment. Vaughan is charged with attempted murder in connection with a brutal attack on his wife during a domestic dispute.

The incident happened at the couple’s home in Mijall Roadin Bodden Town, Lois Hall-Vaughan, (53) was , chopped with a machete on her body and legs and was airlifted to the United States for treatment for her numerous injuries.

Following the attack, the victim’s husband was believed to have consumed a poison of some kind and he was also taken to hospital under police guard following his arrest. He was later charged with attempted murder as a result of the attack.

Vaughan was remanded in custody to Northward.

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Body washed ashore in WB

| 28/09/2014 | 9 Comments

(CNS) Updated  Sunday: Police have now confirmed that a body which was found on the beach in Barkers on Saturday morning is George Burnis Ebanks from Boatswain Bay, West Bay. An RCIPS spokesperson said that the emergency services received a report that a body had washed up along the shoreline at around 10:51 yesterday (27 September) and an ambulance responded but the man local man was pronounced dead at the scene by the pathologist. The police have notified the family and have now begun an investigation into the 79 year old man's death. Ebanks is believed to have left home to go fishing between 6:30-7:00am on Saturday.

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Driver admits racing ahead of fatal crash

| 26/09/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): A 24-year-old man has admitted causing the death of his friend last year as a result of dangerous driving. Igor Domladis pleaded guilty on Friday morning in connection with a fatal crash in South Sound in May 2013 in which Zac Quappe (21) was killed. The court heard that the smash occurred because the two young drivers were racing each other in the early hours of the morning. The collision happened when one of the two vehicles slid into the other near to Sand Cay condos. Dolmadis and his female passenger sustained only minor injuries, while Quappe was pronounced dead a few hours after the smash.

The Ford Taurus being driven by Quappe and Dolmadis’ Mitsubishi Lancer both ran off the road as they negotiated a tight bend. While the Mitsubishi collided with a rock wall by Sand Cay condominiums and a parked Honda CRV in the parking lot, the Ford Taurus continued on a further 200 yards up the road and collided with a concrete column.

The court heard that the crown and defence accident reconstruction experts are at odds over which car slid into which but Dolmadis’ attorney, Ben Tonner, said that the matter was academic as his client had admitted his culpability in the smash that killed his friend. The lawyer asked for a social enquiry report ahead of his client’s sentencing and Dolmadis was bailed to return for that hearing on 27 November.

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