Locals make grade but no job

| 24/06/2014

(CNS): The opposition benches were querying why almost 70 Caymanians cleared as experienced, qualified, work-ready candidates by the National Work Force Development Agency looking for jobs in the tourism sector weren’t placed in last year’s job drive. During Monday’s Finance Committee proceedings MLAs Arden Mclean and Ezzard Miller queried why only 13 locals were placed during an initiative involving the tourism sector and the government’s job agency when over 80 candidates were cleared ready for work in the sector and there are thousands of work permit holders across the tourism industry that these locals could replace.

The question of why these job-ready candidates couldn’t be placed in any of the posts currently held by permit holders was not directly addressed but ministry officials pointed the finger at the immigration department and the decisions to grant permits by the boards.

Probing Dr Tasha Garcia-Ebanks, the deputy chief officer in the education and employment ministry, during the Finance Committee’s scrutiny of the appropriations for the ministry held by Tara Rivers, Arden McLean, the member for East End, asked what had happened during the much heralded job-drive organized by Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the NWDA.

Garcia-Ebanks described the initiative as a win when it came to developing partnerships but the figures she revealed made it clear it was far from a win for the majority of job-seekers. Although some 200 jobs were identified and over 180 Caymanian clients of the NWDA were contacted to come to the assessments, in the end just 13 people were placed in work. 144 people contacted by NWDA attended their appointments in the districts with CITA and the agency, where they were interviewed by a panel

From those, Garcia-Ebanks said, 82 cleared as suitable for employment without training while 40 required some training and 21 a considerable amount of assistance was needed before they could be put forward for jobs. From the more than 120 who were eventually referred for jobs over 50 people didn’t follow up or go to interviews. More than 40 did attend interviews however and 13 people were eventually hired. Garcia-Ebanks stated that the type of work candidates were looking for and the jobs available in the drive didn’t match, which was why so few people were placed.

McLean said that it "seemed bad that only 13 people wound up with jobs” from more than 180 candidates and asked what was being done since to help the applicants.

The deputy chief said that as all the candidates are NWDA clients they were still being assisted with expanded training and the agency was working hard to remove the barriers to employment. With a more comprehensive intake assessment, she said, the NWDA had a better understanding of what was needed to get the unemployed back to work.

She also talked about the interface between the NWDA and the immigration boards, which she said now ensures members are aware of the local candidates available when considering permits and they can weigh that against the employers responses for not hiring them.

However, the idea of removing existing permit holders to make way for these experienced and qualified local workers appeared not to be on the cards.

When the North Side member, Ezzard Miller, pointed out that, in accordance with the immigration law, if a Caymanian is suitably qualified and available for any post they should get it, regardless of whether or not it is currently filled by a permit holder. He queried how almost 70 Caymanians could be seeking work in the tourism sector, cleared by not just the NWDA but the tourism association as well as being suitable, when there were so many permits in that industry.

Garcia-Ebanks told the committee that the job drive only included jobs that were vacant at the time of the initiative and not jobs held by existing permit holders.

Asked if government had taken any action to cancel permits in favour of the available candidates, the employment minster spoke about the process of supplying information to the boards at the time of work permit applications but skirted the issue of the permits already granted to overseas workers being cancelled

Rivers indicated that with the new process the information will get through to the boards and as each permit comes up the boards will be in a position to enforce the immigration law. She said it was not, however, the mandate of the NWDA to cancel permits and work permit decisions, she said, are made by immigration

“It it is not for us to say to an employer you can’t apply,” she said, adding that the agency was trying its best to show employers and immigration the potential Caymanians available for jobs but in the end it was down to the boards. The minister said the NWDA still did not have the resources to police permits but she undertook to follow through with the candidates cleared in the job drive to ensure the boards were aware of their availability and that they were using the portal created by the NWDA, which shows available local candidates.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I was one of the 13 that go a job through NWDA, and though greatful for the change to be employed I only take home $150 a WEEK after health & pension. I work hard like the other workers in trade work and do the same work, but I do not recieve the same pay.

    I didn't expect a hand out from any one, I am just a Dad trying to do righ by my family and I only wish that I could do more.

    If you do not make $150 a week, you do not understand what that means to someone who has to make that work, whether Caymanian or not.

    I am not sure why NWDA is taking credit for a WIN, as Baraud was the angency handling applicants in the programm and its only because the lady had a big heart that I really believed I got this chance. No one else cared, and no from NWDA has follwed up to see if I am ok or treated fairly.

    Employers bragg on this site about the Caymanians that are not employable, maybe you should look at what you are doing other than being a boss to help. If you have a company that hires 200 trade workers and only 15 are Caymanians, 2 permit salaries would have been enough to sponsor training for 2 Caymanians localy at UCCI for a certificate course.

    No company is obligated to do this, its not their responsibilty, but neither is it mine when I put a $1 dollar in those tins at the gas station to help someone I don't know. I just try to do my part and hope it makes a difference.


    • Anonymous says:

      Taking a few remedial English classes might improve your job prospects.


      • Anonymous says:

        His comment was balanced and to the heart. I understood it completely. If you didn't understand it, that's one thing. If you taking a shot at the guy, you may want to ask yourself why. 

        • Anonymous says:

          Certainly, his reply is from the heart and I feel for him.  I would like to know his age etc. Is this a first job for him out of school? I think the comment re his English is not meant as being harsh but in reality and in most jobs one needs to be able to write and speak professionally.  I don't know in what capacity his job is but if he makes an initiative to take some learning classes for writing and some self improvement classes, he may be able to move ahead his job prospects.  I am sure there are courses available (maybe through the Chamber) but it is not right that if he indeed went through a school system that he cannot write a basic paragraph without many spelling errors.  I hope that he is able to carry on and keep working but also that someone in the tourism HR is able to help himwith some courses to help improve his basic education skills.  Good luck to you sir. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Sadly, that's a fair comment. Whilst some of my ex-pat colleagues have been forced to take the 'English' test to prove they are proficient in what is simply their second, third or in one case fourth language I am regularly dealing with Caymanians (particuarly in some areas of CIG) who speak in local patois and send emails full of textspeak.

        You have to teach your up and coming generations to communicate properly if they want to get on and that clearly is not happening.


    • Anonymous says:

      This is why someof the people who went looking for jobs didn't bother with the interview.How utterly disgraceful , he went through the interview he showed up for work "$150 per week????? This is what we have been talking about they want to hire people on slave wages. You can't even pay a domestic helper for that kind of pay.

      If tomorrow morning each and every company maintained a minimum wage of $8.00 per hour to start ,the same people would be standing outside waiting to work. But will you do it ? NO because you don't have too. So sad ,please stop going to church the roof is going to collapse with your lies and  greediness. Karma is a B)(*&^% went it hits you later remember it was you who brought it on to yourself. 

      I have worked in tourism for over 40 years . I was paid this kind of salary in the 70's when rent was 240 per month across the street from Lobster Pot and elect. was $40 per month. There is no excuse for offering such a low salary to anyone whether Caymanian or foreigner. 

    • Anonymous says:

      So two permit salaries each should generate three or four times their costs in income.  So you are completely underestimating the costs of sponsoring candidates. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Long story short: qualified, willing, individuals (Caymanian or otherwise) who put in effort and show promise get hired. There are LOTS of fantastic Caymanians in the tourism industry, but there are also LOTS who think they should just walk into a job as a manager without doing any of the lower level work which is how all the experience is gained. Everyone wants to start out at the highest possible wage, but people who REALLY want to work will take something that isn't perfect and try to either work their way up or gain some experience until they can get something better later on/somewhere else.

    People who can't even be bothered to show up to an interview should immediately be taken off the list and left to fend for themselves. 

    In my (brief) experience our company tends to hire a much larger percentage of Caymanians who walk through the door with their resume and looking for work than those who are recommended by the governments placement committee. I don't think that is a coincidence – those actively looking and showing interest are generally much more hungry for a job/experience/a foot in the door. And thats all it takes to get started. One of the Caymanian employees that "walked in" to our establishment is now one of the supervisors after starting off bussing tables less than two years ago, and she's awesome.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would rather not hire than take someone after a cancellation of a permit.

    • Anonymous says:

      And that kind of bloodymindedness against Caymanians is the problem in this country.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What "grade" is there to "make"?  

  5. Anonymous says:

    Caymanian unemployment is a myth.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is pretty obvious who are taking time out during working hours to denounce Caymanians. The many tumb down and anti-Caymanian comments tell the stoy. The fact is, howeve, that bias againt Caymanians is rampant throughout the workforce here and the governent needs to take a stand! There is no other country on this planet that would sit by and allow the injustice against its own people as happens here

    • Anonymous says:

      This kind of comment spreads the us versus them attitude. Its not helpful in anyway. 

    • Anonymous says:

      1. You said, "There is no other country on this planet that would sit by and allow the injustice against its own people as happens here".  I can think of many places where this happens.  Get your facts straight. 2. "Tumb" isn't a word.  "Howeve" isn't a word.  "Governent" isn't a word.  3. I feel like your sentence should read "The fact is, bias against Caymanians exists and it is rampant throughout the workforce".  4. By just reading your comment and seeing the errors in grammar and spelling, I would not hire you.  Caymanian or not Caymanian.

  7. Facto De Matta says:

    The truth of the matter is that very few if any of them were unemployed anyway. They turned up full of speculation that they could leave with what they perceived was a better job. Yes, it really is that simple.

  8. Bingo says:

    As an employer in the tourism industry, I have tried my darnest to employ local candidates – trust me it is not from lack of trying on my part that I have had to employ expats. The reasons for this are well documented and I won't go into them again – but for gods sake please don't try and force anyone down our throats. I suggest Ezzard try running a tourism business so he can get some relaistic expectations on this issue. 

    • Anonymous says:

      And how about all those agencies who help employers get away with employing expats by using temps sometimes even for years at a time. That should stop!  Immigration officials should stop catering to these agencies and employers.  There should be an enquiry into whether there are any family relationships between agency owners and the heads of Immigration. You would be surprised.

  9. Cornbread says:

    Caymanian need to start some adjustments fast! Not all are under the "Not Showing up" in the que line now.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Let's do some basic math here.

    According to this, of more than 120 potential candidates over 50 didn't turn up for interviews but more than 40 others did. So we end up with roughly 20 people unaccounted for?

    This is all complete BS. Why can't CIG provide the exact figures?


    • Anonymous says:

      Possibly because they don't understand the concept of being fully publicly acountable? Come on CNS use FOI to find out what the heck is really going on here.

      CNS: Anyone can make an FOI request. It's not just for the media.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, but you can make best use of the results. Isn't that what journalism is all about?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why bother with FOI? Any accredited media outlet should just be able to phone up and get the figures.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can tell you what happened with at least two of those qualified candidates. I was contacted by CITA about interviewing two people. Those two people never followed through and I never did interview them. I never heard from one at all. The other contacted me but turns out he didn't have the qualifications that he told CITA he had. I offered to interview him anyway but he never came. 

    I think it is interesting how the stats are thrown about. A number of unemployed is given. They are described as qualified. I never seem to meet these people despite constantly advertising a job vacancy. 

    My understanding of unemployed is that the person has to be actively looking for work, not simply responding in a survey that they don't have a job. 

    I think the number of unemployed that is constantly reported might be a tad overinflated. I suspect that many of these people are in fact not actually insterested in working and are are also not actually qualified. Having a credential and being qualified are not exactly the same thing.

    These are just hunches based on the people I have met over the past 9 years who have come looking for work. When the labour board and immigration tells me that there are qualified Caymanians available I never seem to get the names of them. I never seem to meet these people. They don't seem to exist. After much wrangling and back and forth, in the end, I end up having to fill the position with a permit. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just try getting these so called candidates to work shift work, weekends and public holidays all of which are required in the tourism industry, heck try to get them to show up for the interview and when they do even though a comprehensive job description is provided they tell you they won't do this or that or are only interested in one aspect of the job….it is unreal and maddening because many of them take up valuable time just so they can go back to social services and say they"tried" to get a job but no one will hire them, believe me they aren't trying very hard

  13. Voice of reason says:

    So, if you are qualified (wich it seems fair to require) and actually turn up for your interiew, you have a 1 in 3 chance (13/40) of getting a job. Those are excellent odds. I have, at certain times in my caeer, had to apply to hundreds of employers – litrally hundreds, to be told, they had hired someone else, weren't hiring at that time or for my prticular role, or that I was not the best candidate. What did I do. I studied, took lesser jobs to gain more experience, took qualifications and tried again. And guess what? I'm very employable and people seem to want me around, which is nice.

  14. Anonymous says:

    It appears to be assumed that the jobs these people didn't get have been filled by someone else and that that person wasa permit holder. I wonder what the bottom line really is. I suspect many of the spots remain unfilled.

  15. Anonymous says:

    The Polictions know that this is a trend in Caymanians. Sorry to say and YES I am a Caymanian … but the truth is Caymanian want to work Monday to Friday and earn KDY$5K plus like our MLAs,

    I am a small buisness owner and I have a hard time with Caymanian, the are always Late, someone is always sick in the family, dead or dying, car problems etc … the list goes on. When they do show up for work it is as if they are doing you a favor… Not all CaymanianI must say but the younger generation 18-35. They want fancy car , lost of bling bling … nothing wrong with that But you must work for it.

    We all need a wake up call, things are generally hard out there trust me. Just hope that the few hard working Caymanian keep their jobs in these competative times 


  16. Anonymous says:

    Hahahaha more unrelated matters wasting time in the finance committee. Let's look into the reason members of the opposition within this committee are focused on everything other than finance. 

  17. Knot S Smart says:

    Just throwing this out there…

    Are employers afraid to hire Caymanians because the Labour Board becomes involved when there are disputes between employee and employer?

    And would Caymanians perform better, and fare better on the job, if the 'threat' of the Labour Board (or whatever name we call it now) stopped providing free prosecution in disputes – on behalf of employees, and against employers?

    Think about it… If you are an employer would you hire more or less Caymanians if the 'threat' of the Labour Board involvement in disputes against employers –  were removed?


    • Anonymous says:



      You hit it right on the head.

      One only have to look back to the period before 1998. Since government put in place this machinary for employees ( Labour Board) which was only put there to hear  disputes from disgruntled employees, the country has been in a real mess, ever since.

      Take the construction industry for instance, when work was available the expats and locals were both hired, i know this because i had up to 12 local  guys working on and off for my company.

      When we were slow, thy were told that there were no more work, so they would have to wait untill something pop up. This was the way the industry worked from time and memorial.

      No complaints were heard from these guys, they understood we couldnt make blood from stone. There were lots of harmony and understanding amongst the people involved.

      Then the government brought in the labour board, and all hell broke loose, you didnt dare lay any one off unless you compensated them. Now where were the small companies  going to find this kind of money, look around today, 16 years later and we are still poor as piss.


    • Anonymous says:

      I am afraid to hire someone who doesn't actually turn up for the assigned shift and who will simply quit. I have hired a person who was all excited and gung-ho but then quit before the start of the first shift. This isn't a game. This is a business. I need people who can perform the duties and work the assigned shifts on a consistent and professional basis. Period. 

  18. Anonymous says:

    "….the type of work candidates were looking for and the jobs available in the drive didn’t match".  In other words, they didn't want the jobs that were available.  You can't blame the employers for that.

    If these Caymanians were truly motivated they would take what was available and advance themselves through hard work.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The long and short of this whole job opportunity for Caymanians fiasco is that, Caymanians, however qualified and suitable for a job, are simply not wanted!! we are not wanted, every excuse in the book will be rubbed in our face whilst a work permit is being approved at Immigration.  Foreign workers can come here, secure a job in a matter of minutes/days and are welcomed with open arms, however, a Caymainian applying for a job, will be interviewed (interrogated) (mainly to provide some comfort to Immigration that a Caymanian was interviewed/interrogated), asked to sit a test, requested to provide evidence of qualifications listed, proper references etc. but I have seen where "referral from a friend" gets a foreign worker a job offer after a skype interview, with no evidence of any qualification just word from a friend.  Our Government need to stop depending on the revenue from the grant of work permits and permanent residency applications and enforce the laws in order to protect Caymanians, ensure we are given a level playing field and treated fairly in the workplace.  I am sick and tired of witnessing decent, respectable, qualified and willing to work Caymanians, kicked in the face just so a foreign worker can come and enjoy the Island life experience whilst making alot of money to wire to their savings accounts in their homeland.  IT ALL LEADS RIGHT BACK TO THE SOCIAL SERVICES DEPT AND THE GOVERNMENT ENDS UP PAYING TO SUPPORT THEM AND THEIR FAMILY.  I understand that there are a few of us who ruin our reputation and constantly put teeth in their employer's and coworkers complaints about us showing up late, having breakfast etc. etc. but what about the foreign workers who are seen partying just about every night of the week, drinking and acting like a fool in public, getting wasted and have to be escorted home, coming to work the next day late, admitting to having a "sore head" or being hung over butits a huge joke and its accepted and they can stand around, chit chat and laugh about it whilst disrupting the dedicated Caymanian workers, who, for fear of being bullied and possibly losing their job, have to sit there and listen whilst trying to concentrate on the work at hand.  However, a Caymanian gets sick (we don't plan sickness) and immediately there is doubt and in some cases, we are asked to provide a medical certificate even if it was just for a day.      

    • Anonymous says:

      Get happy!  

    • Anonymous says:

      The Government needs to stop baby sitting you all.

      Why are they putting out so much effort to get you all to work? if you really wanted to work, you would be at these establishment with whatever you need to get started.

      The Government needs to stop sympatizing with the ones that do not want to work. Which i think,  is like flogging a dead horse.

      What has happened to these little Islands, and the people? in the late 60s when the building boom started, all Caymanians that left school went straight on a job, they walked up and asked for jobs.

      Me personally took a hammer to a job site and went straight to work….been there ever since. Ihave some cousins and friends practically ran the hotels on the beach. They were hard workers.

       Now these days the Caymanians complain to their elected members, their official government, the employment board, the immigration dept.

      What I have to say, if you all were filling those jobs no expats would have a space to fill.

      My guess, the generation of vipers have finally arrived. No governmemnt , or departments or boards are going to motivate these guys…sorry!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats the funniest piece of fiction I've read in a while ….complete crap.

    • Anonymous says:

      10:29 Sounds like you have really been there.I do know that there are some lazy bone Caymanians just like from other Countrys, however there are so many Heads of departments that are not Caymanians and they certainly do not want to even try out a Caymanian. You have a Triny working right now with CIG and he hates Caymanians I am made to understand, and would never ever employ one. What about the water Company Fiasco? Only like to employ from our neighbouring Communist Country.  There are so many other places that are over crowded with a particular Nationality.

    • Anonymous says:



      I just cant understand why so many say they cant find a job.

      My first niece was trained by CIBC came home and got a job immidiatly, this was in 1996, she moved up the ladder and now a manager of a private bank.

      My first nephew  Manages a Hedge Fund company.

      My second niece, worked for a law firm, they gave her time off to go to law school, graduated, worked at  Monetary Authorithy for 6 years, now she is manager at a private bank.

      My second nephew workes for Decco as an IT technician.

      My third Nephew is in Cayman Islaqnd  University and works part time.

      Fourth nephew works for Decco as a marketing agent.

      I just cant understand why you all cant find a  job. My family is no special people either!


      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for highlighting this, because all the talk is NO Caymanian can get a job, which is plainly wrong. If there were decent unemployment statistics we could comment better, but numbers are thrown about, inflated by each story teller and in no time the urban myth is that there are 2000 unemployed Caymanians. In fact at one time I heard a talk show host claim the figure to be 3000!!! Several callers to Rooster claim to be unemployed, but in actual fact are self-employed….. maybe their business' are not doing so well, but they are still "employed".

        If you remove the expat poulation from the equation we might speculate that the Caymanian population is around 32,000 (from ESO website). The rough figure from the last census of those in the working age groups is around 50 to 60% so take out the children and elderly, does that leave around 16,000 Caymanians of working age? IF taken to its extreme 3000 of those are unemployed, then that means at LEAST 13,000 Caymanians ARE employed (forgive capitals). Let's hear of more success stories.

  20. JTB says:

    The main 'barriers to employment" are unrealistic expectations about the kind of jobs that the candidates are capable of doing. If they won't even turn up for interview, there seem to be two options. Stop paying them welfare so they have to take the jobs they can get, rather than the ones they would like, or else stop bitching about it.

    I am intrigued by the suggestion that people who have followed the rules in getting permits and have rearranged their lives accordingly on the basis that a permit has been issued, should now be unceremoniously dumped out of their jobs (and presumably deported) in favour of locals who are too lazy to turn up for an interview, That's a great way to head straight to a third world future, Arden and Ezzard. But of course we know that those two are just grandstanding anyway.

    • Anonymous says:

      What of the ones that are capable of the job and have the exact experience and qualifications? What of the ones that do go to the interviews? What of the ones that are at work on time and have great references? The people you speak of do exist. But the majority of instances are new companies that only want to hire their own. Not a problem to have some. But do not prevent locals from having a job because you want to hire your friend. 


      • Anonymous says:

        They get hired . . .

      • Anonymous says:

        What I realized in my time in Cayman (I am an expat) is that employers want who they want to work for them, not who the government says I should have working for me.  The would prefer to pay for a work permit for a known commodity (a person who has proved themselves and they are comfortable with the work relationship) than an unknown.  

        There are instances where locals are given the short end but in my experience employers for fear of having to deal with Immigration boards tried not to rock the boat, even temping agencies.  

        Sometimes it may mean taking a job that pays you rather than a job that you want or are qualified for!

      • Anonymous says:

        I can't speak to other industries but after nine years in the dive industry I can safely say that no qualified Caymanian has ever turned up. Most who apply at the dive shop haven't ever been diving. One told me that they were afraid of diving. One had taken a course 7 years earlier but didn't remember anything from it and failed a very basic questionnaire. It is not the responsibility of employers to hand hold these people. That is not how a labour market normally works. Don't get me wrong, I would be more than happy to train the right candidate but the right candidate at a dive shop is someone who has started diving and is passionate and enthusiastic, not someone who is afraid of it or who has never tried it. Why should the employer make all the investment and the employee make none?

    • Anonymous says:

      That is exactly what got them spoilt in the first place. Politicians setting them up with Social services. This needs to stop.

      Votes, votes

  21. Anonymous says:

    You want a job, but will not turn up to an interview? Sweet Baby Jesus.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suppose if we all had his faith none of us would turn up for interviews.

    • AnnaMouse says:

      But these were hard jobs in the tourism sector, belwo the level of senior management and not worthy of the Caymanians who did not go to the interview.  This is why God made expats to do this sort of work, especially if it is low wage or tip based.  We all know that with the education you get at John Gray these unemployed people are better than these jobs.  Why bother to work your way up the ladder when you can get paid to stay home.