Ritz tops permit holder list

| 30/01/2015 | 37 Comments

(CNS): As the unemployment rate among locals grows in the face of increasing work permit grants, statistics from the immigration department have revealed the top ten employers holding the most permits in Cayman and employing the most overseas workers. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman has taken the top spot in the list following a freedom of information request made by a local job-seeker – one of many Caymanians who has tried and failed to get a job at the luxury resort.

The Ritz is one of seven private sector companies on the list, which also includes the hospital, the education department and the police. The Ritz holds 488 work permits but according to a spokesperson, the hotel employs another three hundred staff that are either residents with the right to work or locals. Sitting in second place is Foster’s Food Fair’s largest store at the airport. There are 331 work permit holders there, which, according to the owner, employs roughly 550 people in total.

In third place when it comes to employing foreign nationals is the Health Services Authority (HSA), which has 224 overseas workers. The Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort holds work permits for 182 people, but the Department of Education Services, with 174 foreign workers, completes the top five. In sixth place is The Security Centre with 169 permits followed by the RCIPS which has 165 foreign nationals from around 400 officers. Meanwhile, the first of the financial sector employers in the top ten is KPMG with 158 permits followed by PricewaterhouseCoopers with 135. Tenth on the list is Kirk’s Supermarket with 119 permit holders.

As the country’s largest private sector employer, the Ritz said that it is heavily involved in the Cayman Islands School of Hospitality Studies and other training initiatives around the island as it strives to recruit more local workers, but the hotel said it would not comment on the recruitment process in general.

During the last few months that CNS has been shining a spotlight on the problems local job seekers are facing, most are unwilling to go on the record with their experiences when they are still trying to find work, as they believe speaking publicly about any discrimination they may have encountered will only make things worse.

One local professional job hunter, who does not want to be named, recently revealed to CNS that over the last two years of job hunting she has made more than 200 applications, but despite making it down to the last two or three candidates on numerous occasions, she has still not secured a job. But her story is by no means unique.

Dwene Ebanks, a candidate in the 2013 election in West Bay and a veteran of the tourism sector, made the FOI request and said he was willing to go on the record about his experiences at the luxury resort, where he too was pipped at the job post by a permit holder. Ebanks said he spotted the job advert for a destination services manager on the Ritz website, and knowing he was fully qualified, “if not more than qualified”, he applied immediately. He completed the application process and undertook two back to back interviews.

“After nearly three hours of interviews with four people I left feeling exhausted but very confident that it all went well.” Ebanks was told he would hear within two weeks but the time came and went with no response. After making several emails and calls to the hotel without a response, he finally received a call and discovered the post had gone to a permit holder. While the HR boss said his interview was strong, he was told they had selected someone they thought had more experience.

“I thanked her for her time and hung up,” he said, but with decades of experience in tourism in every field on all three islands, he struggled to see how it was possible. “Never mind my extensive management experience, competency and knowledge and my hard work ethic, the Ritz believed that an overseas expat worker could offer more or know more about the services available, including local vendors tour companies, boat operators, restaurants and meeting events, etc, in the Cayman Islands than me, someone born and raised locally who has vast experience in that field and area.”

If someone with his significant years of experience and qualifications is being denied the opportunity at the islands’ leading resort, Ebanks queried how most local people will ever be given a chance.  Asking the government and leaders to enforce the law, he questioned how the hotel and other employers with huge numbers of permits continue to get more when so few Caymanians are being hired and those who apply are being passed over.

Cayman News Service

Top 10 work permit holders in the Cayman Islands

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Comments (37)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The total permits In this top ten is approximately 10% of the total permits issued. So where exactly are the other 18,000 working?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Get rid of work permits but do allow guest workers to pay the govt to be here.
    Slavery is alive and well in cayman islands due to work permits. Their are many workers here on permit that report to a job agent they turn over their check of lets say 500 per week the agent gets 250 of that money for owning the work permit any problems and you are on the next plane home with no money.
    This practice is widespread and often in the construction and bar industry

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dwene thinks he’s “more than qualified” (whatever that means) and cites his various qualities including his “hard work ethic”. Fair enough. But perhaps after checking with his previous employer and assessing his interview, the Ritz felt there was a stronger candidate. It happens all the time all over the world, always has, always will. Several people apply, only one can get the job. Why should Dwene be any different?

  4. Sad Situation in Cayman says:

    The problem is the huge amount of permit holders working in government offices. That should never be allowed in any country. Those numbers are ridiculous! Maybe what Cayman needs to do is start training their youth how to fill those positions. Teach them what is needed in the government positions and in the tourism trade. The right education will help your little Island. It is very sad to see what has happened to your Island in the last 10 years I have visited. I am sad to say, I won’t be back.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It’s difficult for everyone to live off these small wages no a days.But you must remember this is Cayman, meaning we should put caymanians first in everything we do..everyone else should come after.It sounds a bit cold but its facts.We are the only place on earth I see where everyone can come here live life and push caymanians to the side to live off dog shit.The only people who should be arguing over small wages should be caymanians,other non caymanians should just go back where there from and fight for there rights there.It is what it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      I bet you would be the first to go to a Caymanian doctor

    • Anonymous says:

      The fact is that the foreign workers are more qualified that is education, experience, work ethics and the list goes on. Employers need the best of the best.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I recently saw an ad by [a law firm] for a Senior Accountant, routine internal accounting type Job Description, however the experience required included 8 years investment banking experience. Clearly another advert designed to exclude qualified Caymanian’s to recruit a permit holder. This exclusion in our own country needs to stop and Immigration needs to closely monitor the qualification required by these companies. If the qualifications do not match the job description then something is clearly wrong.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is becoming an old issue, very quickly

    Reality is that not only do experience and education that qualify a candidate.

    “The answer is yes, so now what is your question?” That is customer service and unfortunately not part of the Cayman culture.

  8. Anonymous says:

    While not mentioned in this CNS article, a recent print media story revealed that the issuing of work permits has increased by 8% in the last year. This from the Government which claims that employment for Caymanians is one of its priorities, and presented its New Year message through the Premier to employers to “employ more Caymanians”!

    Why would anyone have faith in such a Government? As long as Governments continue to fail to enforce existing policies and continue to sell work permits hand-over-fist, eligible Caymanians will continue to be excluded from the workforce. As long as Governments fail to improve our education system, many Caymanians will, unfortunately, remain ineligible for employment in some sectors of the workforce.

    Can’t blame an employer if he/she takes advantage of the broken system to save money and/or get their job done!

    • Anonymous says:

      If you had read past the headline of that article you would have read that there was no increase in new permits, and the 8% increase was due to increase from 7-10 years for the permit.
      Now talking from personal experience I have interviewed around 30 Caymanians in the past 6 months for various positions and none were currently unemployed and all were working in their chosen fields. I know some people view actually having to apply for a job as a barrier to employment, but seriously if someone cannot even be bothered to apply, it doesn’t give a lot of confidence in their work ethic.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I can say from personal experience that R-C tried very hard to recruit and retain local employees a few years ago and the results were, to be very polite, disappointing. Trying to check in with receptionists who are more interesting in talking on their cell phones than dealing with customers and speak a kind of local patois (As in, ‘You say waaaaa?’) isn’t the best introduction to a 5-star hotel. At least it did get better once you got past that.

    This is Grand Cayman’s premier hotel/resort and if they can’t get good local staff who can blame them for employing ex-pats?

    If you force them into a quota system with stories like this don’t be surprised if R-C ends up simply shutting down

  10. Iamnotapirate says:

    Best way to figure out why is to start your own business, hire Caymanians, and try to make the business profitable and successful. If you can do it without hiring expats and make it work then teach all the other businesses how you did it. Otherwise your just telling smart people what you would do if you were as smart as them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is understandable that residents would feel angst at seeing permit holders filling certain desirable jobs. It’s important to ask why rational, well informed, profit motivated business owners are making these decisions. I seriously doubt it is simply to spite the local populace. When making hiring decisions, many factors may come into play. Employers’ experience with previous employees often shapes future hiring patterns. Having the government force businesses to hire residents is not the answer. To change the hiring situation, applicants need to understand what employers need, and find a way to demonstrate they are the best person for the job, not just the best resident.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Stupid FOI. It means nothing.
    How many employees does each entity have?
    What are the level/qualification of work permit?

    We all know locals wont clean rooms be bellmen, work cash registers etc.
    Go to another OT and you will see locals doing these jobs

  13. Anonymous says:

    Almost all the Education Department expats are teachers. Without them schools could not function, as there just aren’t enough qualified local staff at this point in time.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The truth is there are a LOT of white collar locals that are turned away- these are NOT lazy unskilled people, these are highly respected advanced professionals! My family member has more IT certifications and letters of reference that you can shake a stick at and still the jobs go to work permits? WHERE IS THE BLOODY ENFORCEMENT? No one wants a hand out, but the jobs we trained for…. and now with downsizing at the banks, we have joined the ranks of the unemployed!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      People will continue to lose jobs as companies change, policies are enforced, and people sent away from this country.

      The best possible thing that can happen is new jobs, not just a replacement (often just a stop gap or temporary) to a position that is currently held by a person on a permit.

      If the new hotel hires 500 people. Maybe 50% of which do not require a permit, yet the other 50% will. Besides the obvious benefits that a full hotel will bring, more jobs will be created from the airport, through government, through the tourism support industry, through front line businesses, and some of the older folks who are on the NWDA list can stop job hunting as as their rental properties start to fill up, and they are making money again.

      We need, a new port, a new airport, Ironwood, more golf courses, a convention centre, another two new hotels… We need 2500 brand new jobs, the spin off will be another 500.

      And if is too much to wrap your heads around where we find these new business and new investors, look within the financial services industry. Change the permit fee from 1-5, 6-10 professionals to 1-7, 8-15 professionals and watch every small law and accounting firm hire a new person… or three.

      While you are at it. Every employer in the financial services industry with more than 50 employees, offer them five new work permits for professionals with no cost for 5 years. They invite 5 new lawyers on board… 5-10 new support staff positions will be created.

      There are too many square people trying to fit into round jobs here. Of the 1000 unemployed, many could find work in warehousing or manufacturing, yet we have no such industry.

      Remove the import duty, and eliminate fees for any company that will start a manufacturing company. The famous failed “designed in the Caribbean” clothing line comes to mind. Of course it was WAY too pricy, and the business plan was not sound, but instead of purchasing finished product shipped from overseas and paying duty on it, import raw materials duty free and have clothes manufactured here, in a glass walled factory, by the cruise dock…

      Sorry, now am rambling. My point is just, the Elected Government needs to do ah, SOMETHING to create new jobs and get this economy to simmer.

      It has a long long way to go before it overheats.

  15. Anonymous says:

    People need to know that Permanent Residents are also holders of a certain type of permit as they not classified as Caymanians.

    Just an FYI

  16. Time For Change says:

    Time to boycott these companies and time for change regarding the security center as most of their staff are farmed out to government entities like the Government admin building you want to do business here then employ some of the locals. the cheap permits for these companies needs to stop. What happened to the other immigration piece that CNS was working on last week regarding locals not getting a fail shake I can’t find it now…

  17. Anonymous says:

    It would be more useful to know what % of a companies work force is on permit rather than just the hard numbers.

  18. Paper Caymaniman says:

    Suck it up Dweyne, someone was better than you. Don’t be bitter, find another job.

  19. Anonymous says:

    so what?

  20. Anonymous says:

    He lost me at “morel than qualified”

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I’m not at all surprised at this list. I know Foster’s for sure has a ton of unnecessary permits but don’t blame them. I blame immigration for not enforcing the law. Why do you need a work permit for a cashier??

    • Dan says:

      Because the jobs are so low paying, it would be very difficult for a Caymanian to support themselves or a family on such low wages. Without minimum wage, these jobs will continue to be filled by expats willing to work on such wages.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you not think it is just as difficult for an expat to support themselves on such a low wage too? The difference being some people would rather be employed than unemployed and see some wages, no matter how low, are better than none! I do however agree that a minimum wage is necessary to protect EVERYONE, not just Caymanians.

        • Anonymous says:

          Nonsense. For a start, young expats can group together and share the cost of a 2 bed apartment between 4 or even 6. What is a Caymanian with a child to do?

          • Anonymous says:

            Stay living at home with the parents….

          • Anonymous says:

            Try not having children if you cant afford them.

          • Anonymous says:

            The same. What makes them different from expats except their own over inflated sense of entitlement and self importance? Caymanians are not keen enough to sacrifice and work, that is the bottom line.

      • SSM345 says:

        With attitudes such as yours Dan, there will continue to be Caymanians complaining that they cannot find work, when in actual fact they can, but choose not to due to their self-inflated ego’s and sense of entitlement. It’s absolute BS, you would rather complain than pull your socks up and make sacrifices, and that is the problem a lot of employers experience with locals. I hear the saying “I nah doing that cause that not in my job description” on a daily basis, and with that attitude is it any wonder people cannot keep a job nor find one? If you will not take a job, nor make sacrifices, then you have no one else to blame apart from yourself.

  22. Another brick in da wall says:

    If you add the 3 CI government figures – then they are the highest permit holders.
    Nuff said!

    • SSM345 says:

      Correct me if I am wrong here, but I though and have always been under the impression that if you work for the CI Government, then you do not require a work permit?

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