Job ad infractions continue

| 21/01/2015 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The issue of recruitment advertisements in the local press is continuing to aggravate local job seekers still battling to find work. Over the last few months CNS has raised a catalogue of issues relating to infractions by employers who are trying to circumvent immigration and labour laws to retain work permit holders when Caymanians could be available. Despite raising these issues, the infractions continue.

Readers have recently forwarded a number of job vacancy ads for which bosses are requesting that candidates have literally decades of experience. In one case employers were looking for a cook with 32 years on the job — an extreme request by anyone’s standards.

Local activist Sandra Catron, who has been heavily involved in assisting Caymanians in their job hunt as well as facing struggles of her own to find suitable work, said she believes these type of adverts are instrumental in the problems faced by job-seekers.

“I’m concerned that any reasonable employer would believe that anyone would require 32 years of experience to be an assistant chef,” she told CNS. “That is literally nonsensical. You have professional chefs running world class restaurants that do not have 32 years of experience. Also, the salary being offered does not equate to what one would expect given the level of experience desired. At the end of the day I remain concerned at the lack of employment compliance at all levels. The only reason someone would run such adverts is to discourage the vast majority of applicants and/or to suit a specific candidate. Discrimination and unrealistic adverts appear to be rampant.”

The National Workforce Development Agency has noted on a number of occasions that it cannot enforce the law relating to the recruitment adverts that relate to permit applications. The NWDA, however, does not allow employers to post vacancies on its site that do not follow the spirit of the law when it comes to giving locals a fair chance to apply for the jobs.

With technology also opening up greater lines of communication between the work permit and business staffing plan boards and the government job agency, the NWDA has said it is hopeful that the boards will consider these infractions, especially where locals are available, before granting people permits. But CNS understand that permits are being granted, despite the obvious efforts in numerous instances to eliminate any possible applications from Caymanian workers.

Since CNS began raising the issue last year we have contacted various officials at the immigration department and attempted to make contact, to no avail, with board members, and we have received no responses about how the presentation of the vacancies is impacting decisions about permits.

The questionable requirements in job posts are common across the board, whether it is asking for a catalogue of irrelevant academic or professional qualifications or demanding unfeasibly long periods of work experience in a narrow field, the infractions are being committed by major commercial organisations as well as small businesses and even recruitment agencies.

Despite the concerns raised by local job-seekers and the debate that has raged among CNS commenters and in other public forum, the problems persist and local authorities appear to be powerless to address it.

Employment Minister Tara Rivers has on a number of occasions urged employers to follow the law and encouraged them to be more reasonable in the recruitment process. The premier has spoken on a number of public platforms about the need for employers to give work to unemployed Caymanians.

Al Suckoo, the government back-bench MLA for Bodden Town and ministry councillor, has raised his concerns on numerous occasions and warned that the government he serves in will be punished at the polls if it cannot find a way to address the problem of rising unemployment among qualified, capable and experienced Caymanians.

While job seekers face myriad workplace barriers as a result of low skill sets or a lack of experience, the artificial barriers set up by employers are impacting the educated element of the local workforce as well.

Recent technology barriers at the NWDA also seem to persist, despite claims by the agency and Department of Employment officials that the problems are fixed.

While CNS continues to receive reports of problems on the job website, with readers receiving error messages when they attempt to apply for jobs posted on the growing database, Deputy Chief Officer Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia said the browser issues that the agency was experiencing had been resolved.

‘The NWDA have tested both Firefox and Chrome and they have found no issues,” she said. “The NWDA worked with the Computer Services Department (CSD) of the Cayman Islands Government for several weeks in late 2014 on both browser issues. As previously reported, a review was undertaken by CSD which found that there were incompatibility issues with Google Chrome and Firefox browser that were a result of upgrades to the operating system in both of these programmes. The NWDA reports that they have not received a browser related complaint since the issue was resolved in December 2014.”

The NWDA can assist any clients that experience issues when they register with the NWDA or access the portal, she noted.

“NWDA staff provide phone support, personalised support in the NWDA offices or at the client’s place of business,” Ebanks-Garcia explained. “The NWDA is aware that with any technology based client tool support and assistance must be provided and the staff of the NWDA are happy to provide this support and assistance.’

Any client who is having trouble accessing the online portal is asked to contact the NWDA at or 945-3114.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Time for change says:

    Thinker you missed the point stop but you bring up a good solution lets make expats have to get a green card before being able to apply for a job here we can use the same rules the States uses to be fair…. Politicians this could be a good revenue source as well as we could be paid lots of green to give out green cards….

    • hattra says:

      You can work in the USA without a green card. They have a work permit system as well. The big difference is that all work permits cost the same at $400 or thereabouts and they are controlled by the individual, not the employer, so the individual decides whether to renew and deals with it themselves

  2. Time for change says:

    The odds are stacked against Caymanians.The employment process is a difficult one as it is hard to tell after an interview if the candidate will work out and fit in with the team. So once someone gets an employee who is good (Expat or Caymanian) they do not want to lose that person so in the the case of the Expat who they are forced to advertise for I can understand the reluctance for change, however, they should follow the laws of the land and not play dirty games to keep said Expat. I for one have been to countless interviews where I was either interviewed by the person whos work permit was being renewed (this is a clear conflict of interest) and from walking through the door I knew there was no chance, or it was clear by the line of questioning that even if I could walk on water and had every skill required it would make no difference as the interview was just for show. The problem is that this can be very disheartening especially as after reporting these items to Immigration the permit was still renewed. The reason Immigration do not care must be the money involved as the positions I would have been applying for would have incured a 16K work permit fee. In order to solve this the immigration board should look more closely on the renewal process and it is time for them and the business staffing board to work togther to get Caymanians into these positions where there are qualified Caymanians.

    • why says:

      Why would any smart business person choose to pay 16K if you were more qualified for the position than the current permit holder. Were you currently employed looking for greener pastures or perhaps your qualifications / experience do not exactly fit what they needed. I would expect that for 16K Permit you would be seeking a managerial position…perhaps your expectations are to high or you are “over qualified”.

      • Jaded says:

        This is exactly what “Tired” was referring to. This is the reality, employers are doing this everyday because they can. Our qualifications will never exactly fit with what they need because the current work permit holder is all they want. As someone who has had to deal with this on countless occasions it is completely demoralizing. As long as there is no push back from Immigration and the perception that the expat worker is of a higher value than the Caymanian worker and thus worth these exorbitant fees people like me are out of luck!

      • time for change says:

        I would pay 16 K if it mean’t I did not have to train or have a new member of staff get up to speed so this is a trivual amount maybe the fees should be doubled remember if someones permit is turned down a company must pay redundancy so if an employee has say 6 years with the company and they make 100k per year they would have to pay out around 12K and still have the time it takes to get a new employee up to speed (1 to 3 months), I note you did not comment on having the person who’s permit was being renewed doing the interviewing?

  3. Tired says:

    Unfortunately due to the significant revenue generated by work permits coupled with politicians who care more about being re-elected than anything else, this issue will never progress further. There has to be serious political will for there to be genuine discussion with a purpose to correct. Without a doubt there is significant abuse by companies when it comes to hiring Caymanians. I will speak for the employable qualified Caymanians, who go to interview after interview only to discover that it is a work permit renewal and their qualifications rivals that of the current work permit holder, hence the pretense of an interview.
    The question as to why would an employer hire a wp holder when a qualified Caymanian is available is disingenuous. There are several reasons 1) longevity comes with significant knowledge and benefits of the ins and outs of a company 2) prejudice/perception against Caymanians that they are lazy, incompetent, unreliable etc 3) no repercussions or accountability – basic checks aren’t being done and some employers are so blatantly disrespectful and arrogant they find no need to pretend to follow the Law.
    Points 2 and 3 are easier to address and these are the areas in which Government could assist its people by doing the basic. Stop granting work permits for junior level positions, stop rubber stamping applications start to review resumes and applications as submitted, thoroughly review these recruiting agencies with their “temps” who sit in the position for years. Provide a forum for anonymous tips and act on them by doing basic inquiries, false claims will not pass a sniff test. Help us out here make an effort!

    • Diogenes says:

      I entirely agree with your assessment, but with respect your suggestions do not address 2) at all.
      The simple fact is that any new employee is a risk for the employer – expat or Caymanian – they may turnout out be exactly those things, or just not fit in with the team. With an expat the risk is controllable with work permits – bring them in on a temp and do not renew it. Hire a Caymanian and try to dismiss them and see how far you get. You will be up to your ears with labour tribunals and immigration complaints. If you either provide expats with the same protections that Caymanians have, so their protection against unfair dismissal is not undercut by the fact they have been thrown off the island, or make it an absolute rule that employers can terminate any employee during a probationary period without having to show cause you reduce the risk, but not the perception, problem.
      You also failed to mention the job hopping problem. An expat cannot job hop – or tries at his peril – because the employer can complain and Immigration should refuse the next permit – that’s in the regulations. However a Caymanian can. Again, a supposed advantage for Caymanians that in practice – giving them job flexibility but denying it to expats – actually counts against them when it comes to that initial job offer. When you factor in the considerable cost and disruption of hiring new staff, that is a risk the employer will factor in, especially when considering not renewing a tried and tested expat. If the Caymanian walks off the job within 6 months, its a bit late to bring the expat back from overseas after he has been deported for losing his WP. I am honestly not sure what the answer is to that problem.

  4. Inquiring Minds says:

    If it were a typo why haven’t they ran a retraction all this time later?

  5. m says:

    I saw that ad. Very likely a typo as the name of the restaurant was spelled incorrectly.

  6. simon says:

    Is that with or without conviction?

  7. hmmmm says:

    Obviously they have a chef with 32 years of experience that they want to keep. The nonsensical part is that the employer is expected to take away that chef’s job and force him and his family to leave the country and give his job to a less qualified Caymanian who might very well quit or stop turning up for work as soon as they are offered something else.

  8. SSM345 says:

    It would be interesting to know how many of our “Leaders” own businesses and the number of locals vs expats they employ. Then compare those jobs held by the expats to the mentioned “job advertisement sections” of our local papers (i.e. permit renewals) and you will get a glaringly obvious reason as to why protocol is not being followed, because those at the top don’t follow it.
    Aside from that, you cannot force employers to hire people they do not want to hire, so until people get that through their thick heads, there will forever be a problem with this and business will eventually leave Cayman like it is already doing in case none of you have noticed.
    Perhaps the restaurant asking for 32yrs experience in a Chef is planning on putting “Puffer fish” on the menu? In Japan, you have to study the art of preparing such a fish for 10yrs before you can even think about putting it on your menu…..

  9. thinker says:

    Trying to control work permits is doing more harm than good. Look at all of the empty retail/ office space This is the fault of your government trying to control and fix things that are out of their ability to control.
    I as a business owner do not wish to be told how to run my business I will do what is best for my business even if that means shutting down operations.
    The NWDA and your permit board needs people to be unemployed to stay in business otherwise they would have no purpose.
    The truth comes from Mr.Suckoo he basically says if you want to be reelected you better make people think you are trying to do something.
    Your Govt needs chaos to keep operating they need things messed up so they can appear to fulfill a purpose.
    At the end of the day your future leaders need to attract business not cause weekly chaos and if they manage to do that jobs will be created.

    • Me again says:

      I agree – A business owner should be able to hire who they want – end of story. Government can’t tell owners who to hire, that is plain ridiculous.

      • justsaying says:

        Oh really? I own a small establishment in Miami, Florida. I will tell INS that the next time I want to hire a foreigner.

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