Survey finds 98% of job seekers not work ready

| 30/03/2016 | 74 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tara Rivers, Minister of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs

(CNS): A survey conducted by the National Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) of its registered clients who asked for support has found that 97.8% of local job seekers who responded were not work ready and have multiple barriers to getting a job. The survey is part of a newly released government report that has found a catalogue of problems facing some job seekers that are excluding them from the workforce. From mental health problems and poverty to criminal records and major skills gaps, hundreds of locals are facing multiple barriers that will leave them dependent on government unless it acts to address the causes.

While the primary barriers appear to be related mostly to a skills gap, the report stated: “An analysis of the data collected suggests there is a lack of competitiveness among a small segment of the Caymanian labour force that is beset with challenges that hamper their long-term employment prospect, which require government attention and investment in terms of training and development.”

The data and findings form part of a recently released report from the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Unemployment (IMCE), which was established back in July 2014.  The report, dated June 2015, has only just been made public Employment Minister Tara Rivers said it has been, and will be, used to inform government policy and new initiatives to try and tackle the problem of locals being left behind in an economy with 20,000 imported workers.

The report indicates one of the leading factors of structural unemployment among Caymanians workers is the lack of continuous development or lifelong learning but it is not just the workers themselves who are to blame for failing to embrace learning; bosses are also not keeping up the skills of their workers.

The skills gap was identified in the report as the one of the leading causes employers cited for turning down local workers. Almost three-quarters of employers (71.5%) said the lack of requisite skills was the principal reason for not hiring Caymanians.

However, while the report highlights a failure on the part of the local workforce to embrace lifelong learning, there was anecdotal evidence of companies not providing on-the-job training, which means that Caymanians in work are not acquiring relevant up-to-date skills to allow them to transition between jobs or access promotion opportunities.

“An example of this has been in the Financial Services sector, where some employees that were made redundant have found it difficult to become re-employed in similar level jobs because they lack the up-to-date skills or the educational and professional qualifications that recruiting companies require,” the report found.

While some employers said that many locals did not have the right skills, other admitted that they were still trainable and the minister told CNS that the report highlights the need for bosses to stop looking for “pre-packaged or ready-made employees”, as she urged them to train local workers to fit the employment bill.

Rivers assured CNS that the report would not sit on the shelf and its findings would be informing various policies across government and not just in her ministry. She pointed out that it would support her own urging that government moves forward on addressing the impact of mental health challenges face by many people in the community and the rehabilitation of offenders, as she noted that these issues are also fuelling local unemployment problems.

However, Rivers said the area where government would concentrate its efforts was the major skills gap highlighted by both job-seekers and employers. Around 48% of employers said the local people they interviewed were trainable, she noted, as she called for stronger collaboration between the government and the private sector to help Caymanians meet the challenges of the modern workplace instead of turning them away because they are not an exact fit.

Review of Employment Policy and Strategy in the Cayman Islands, IMCE Report of June 2015

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Category: Education, Jobs, Local News

Comments (74)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Obama was elected and that shows that anything is possible O wait did I forget to mention that he was the worst president of modern times and just a token

  2. Anonymous says:

    Up until just recently you could graduate from a Cayman government school without actually passing any subjects. What the government needs to do is stop expecting companies to complete the education of their people, and focus on providing courses to reeducating those adults that have passed through the school system but didn’t actually learn anything. The NWDA has some courses for those looking to get back to work but not the basics which are required in a lot of cases – such as reading, writing, maths, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am so sick of hearing about Tara’s whining about the poor unemployed Caymanian. How come the jobs that can be filled by a non skilled caymanian are filled by work permit holders, garbage collectors, housekeeping, stock people, cashiers, oh yes and the biggest one janitorial services. And how come when a “work permit” holder leaves a position because he or she just realized they weren’t happy changes jobs and gets another work permit, or how about when they get terminated, they just go and get another work permit. Those are the ones Tara should be going after!! Her days are numbered so every now and then you hear her opinions on certain things…

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point re previous graduating criteria. Things are improving in government schools despite those higher up the food chain knowing nothing. They have a few people who are making a difference if only they can hold on to them and allow them to do the job.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have to laugh at the young guy who couldn’t be bothered to attend an interview so he sent his mum!

    • Anonymous says:

      Shut up already you sound ignorant. How much preparation does housekeeping need? All burger flippers sandwich makers and cashiers get on the job training. So where are the employers wrong when a CaymanIan doesn’t show interest in the positions oh yeah Tara what about garbage collectors?

  4. bob says:

    Mandatory 2 years service in the UK military for all post High School students not attending college or attending 2 year technical training school. Only problem is the mothers do not want their children in the military and the fathers claim my child does not need plumbing training as he going to own the plumbing company.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a former professional soldier, I have to ask what makes you think that they will pass selection or the vigorous pre testing and vetting for the UK military?

      I have to also ask why you think those that have chosen a career path and profession should be forced to work with those that haven’t and possibly never could?

      It is a home grown problem which sits firmly in the lap of those who brought it about.

    • Conscience says:

      CNS do you have details of the content of the survey, questions asked and how the concludes ion was arrived at. It is critical to see this so that the public can tell our weaknesses, but it will also provide a clearer picture of how to fix what is really there to be fixed.

      CNS: Sorry, I forgot to attach the report. It’s there now.

  5. SKEPTICAL says:

    In the Real Estate business the expression is ” Location, Location, Location”. In the world of employment it is “Education, Education, Education”. And an education backed by family support, encouraging excellence, vision, and imagination. Different students have different abilities. These are probably identifiable by the age of fifteen, whether academic, or hands-on practical. This the point at which they should be mentored to show them the potential career path for which they should aim.
    As a comparison, you only need to watch the documentaries about underprivileged children in Third World countries, and particularly girls. Arabic children who already speak fluent English as a second language, who want to be nurses, maybe doctors, teachers etc. They may never achieve their highest goals but, they have vision and ambition.
    There is a dreadful culture of entitlement among young people in Cayman, which seems to encourage an attitude that they can sit back, chill out, and eventually their expectations will be handed to them on a plate.

  6. Ed says:

    I posted this account about four years ago just after I left Cayman, but it is relevant in connection with this story:
    An expat friend of mine was coming to the end of her very well paid contract and the company wanted to appoint a Caymanian to replace her. My friend agreed that a certain young woman would shadow her for the last three months of her contract so that she would be ready to take over the day the vacancy arose – no application, no interview, just straight into a job starting at $85,000 a year.
    All went well for a couple of weeks but then a 7.00am meeting was scheduled. The Caymanian flatly refused to attend saying, “My day starts at nine.”
    The position went to an expat and I have no idea what the Caymanian woman is doing now but I wonder if she ever thinks what could have been.

    • Ed says:

      To the people who dislike and troll my comment, what is it that you dislike?
      The truth perhaps?

      • Anonymous says:

        Funnily enough, a very similar thing happened with me personally. I had a great paying job with good benefits however had decided to move onto something else. A young Caymanian lady came into the picture where we thought it would be an incredible opportunity for her; same thing, no application or interview process. Unfortunately she lasted about 2 weeks after my last day due to tardiness, bad attitude and constantly being on her mobile phone.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely no one, that I can see, has brought up the fact that 50% (or more) of every class in every private school here in Cayman is made up of expat children whose parents have absolutely every intention of going all the way through PR to Caymanian status. These people are educating their children extremely well, both here, in Cayman, and later at overseas boarding schools (ages 14-18), then to university, and those children will all be Caymanians when they come back to work in Cayman. If people don’t wake up to this fact very very fast that there will a) be loads of ‘Caymanians’ getting the good jobs in 15-20 years and b) a LOT less revenue coming in on work permits. All this equals social problems for Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, those hard working, law abiding, educated middle class children are a problem for the future. Although mainly they are a problem for those lazy, ill educated kids with a criminal record. . . .

    • Anon says:

      The problem is that segregation in schools means that we are creating a two-tier system with probable “future caymanians” getting access to the best education while our own children are getting a less than stellar education in the public schools. The reality is that those who go to public school will be at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for jobs in the future. Remember it is only relatively wealthy ex-pats that can afford to have their children here and in school in the first place – these are educated professionals who push for the best education for their own children. They need to de-segregate the schools asap so that Caymanian children can get the benefit of working along side these kids. Its not that these “future caymanians” are a problem but they are certainly an opportunity that is not being taken advantage of.

      • Anonymous says:

        35% of Caymanians send there children to private school. You will not find one professional Caymanian doing otherwise. Its a joke that in the Ministry of Education and the Department of Education its own workers do not have faith in the public school system. Why, because they are running it!

  8. William levy says:

    Sad to see some of theses replies. Yes there are some lazy caymanians but there are def barriers stopping caynanians from work and each industry is different. Construction rely on cheap labor for instance…and govt is giving out permits like crazy. Another is the espongement law…any sentence over 30 months no matter what the charge remains on your record for life. The mentality of the young needs to change…cause there is no job you should refuse as a new graduate not attending college…sling some burgers…pump some gas. For you people to criticize this topic and not take it serious is wrong. I bet most of are foreigners that come here to avoid paying taxes…if it was up to me I’d implement an income tax in your salaries. You all come here and act like you all know it all.

    • Anonymous says:

      But we do know it all. We didn’t start out knowing it all. We had to go to school and learn it all then go to work every day and learn it all so we could earn it all. Same as most of the successful Caymanian here. If you don’t learn to earn then you just end up crying about everything like you.

    • Anonymous says:

      William, we are not all here avoiding taxes. Some of us pay tax back in our own countries. I would have no problem paying income tax knowing that my taxes were going to support the infrastructure of Cayman including lifting people out of poverty, providing a safety net when jobs are lost. Its interesting you talk about implementing an income tax in OUR salaries. Why not income tax for all. There is a myriad of reasons why people come here, please don’t make the mistake of tarring us all with the same brush. Oh and by the way its your politicians that are not taking the subject seriously because they make money from work permits.

  9. Anonymous says:

    They’re looking at this all wrong.

    According to their logic, if I am a gardener and I applied for a job as a brain surgeon, the issue would be a “skills gap”, rather than the fact I shouldn’t have been applying for that job in the first place!

    The problem isn’t just that people are under-qualified for the jobs they want. It’s that they don’t want the jobs they ARE qualified for. That’s the real cause of our “unemployment problem”.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I just read a survey that said 98.7 percent of surveys are inaccurate.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Every person entering High School should be given a wrist watch and a steam iron and instructions on how to best use them both.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So there is the proof that unemployment is mythical. Can the moaners stop moaning now?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I promise you that that 6% unemployed are the dregs of our society and they are that subset of people who cannot work a regular job. They are free spirits who can not be tied down they will take no long term commitment. We have to stop wasting our time and money trying to find jobs for them. Let them run free, they are happy.

    • Anonymous says:

      We can let them roam free around your house then. Otherwise, I think help them get jobs. Counsel them to get and hold steady jobs that have been identified socially in Cayman as menial and ‘beneath them’. Reframe the thinking that there is pride in earning your keep. Rather than pride in taking free money and stealing. Or….ensure a family member is taking responsibility for them with legal ramifications if the law is broken on the part of the individual and the family member. Similar to how a parent has responsibility for a child. Or just save society the grief and lock them up now.

    • Conscience says:

      Let them run free and. Come rob you or worse eh. Time for your medication.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That is one answer but not the only answer and you know it.

  15. Just Sayin' says:

    We must march! Or pray! Or start a petition! Or something. Oh never mind.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I give the Minister credit for making the truth available to the public.
    For decades the local wisdom has been that it is prejudice against Caymanians. The politicians and local radio talk show hosts discovered this belief was a voter hot button topic and have been pushing that button like a drunken monkey ever since.
    Unfortunately blame doesn’t solve the problem but then again it gets votes.

  17. Frustrated Caymanian says:

    I don’t really understand the Government’s logic. Alden goes ahead and launches the ready to work program in order to decrease the unemployment rate before re-elections. What Alden should have done was waited for this analysis to come out and find out from the horse’s mouth what the main reasons for Caymanian unemployment are! Common sense really ain’t so common huh? Alden needs to focus on improving the school’s curriculum instead of building these fancy schools!! Improve the education curriculum and then a lot of the problems that exist in our society will iron themselves out.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Premier stated, and Dr Garcia confirmed, that the R2W programme was based on this analysis. Note- the report was completed in 2015. There are other employment programmes in the works as well. Also attempts to remove barriers such as transport – bus routes being introduced in Walkers road etc to help folks with no cars get to work.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Given the choice between: a pre-qualified and seasoned candidate; and one that might eventually get there with 100s of on-the-job training hours (and an implied degradation of peak productivity for two employees), after which the trainee may or may not stay, most employers choose the former – even if they have to pay a work permit premium to get the work that needs to get done completed to the acceptable standard to remain in business. Business owners are not charity organizations. There are only a handful of businesses with the human capital to entertain such a scale of training in the Cayman Islands. It would sure be nice if everyone was paid just for showing up like public service, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that in a competitive marketplace. By competitive, we mean, competing against other jurisdictions for business, market share, and shareholder ROI. Put that in the report.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Most businesses in Cayman are too small to educate or train locals and stay sustainably profitable. Promotions are generally only possible with medium and larger businesses that have a need for a multi-tiered organisational structure and this is generally absent in small businesses (and Cayman is made mostly of small businesses). This is a fact. It is a common reason many are disatisfied with their jobs and cannot demonstrate progressive careers (because no proper training or promotions).

    Should Government look into assisting Caymanians to find work abroad instead where the opportunities for training, promotion and experience is (perhaps) better? A number of Caymanians have already taken the initiative and moved to the USA or the UK to get training and experience not easily obtained here. There are some barriers the Government can perhaps help with to make this possible.

  20. frangipani says:

    what a sad state of affairs is this headline.!!! there are so many reasons why people are not job ready. It starts in the home. Unfortunately the powers that be do not know what the solutions are to remedy the situation and matters just get from bad to worse. Poor Cayman!!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    the caymanian unemployment myth will still continue…..

  22. Anonymous says:

    lets find an expat ‘baines type’ equivalent to blame/sack…..

  23. Anonymous says:

    OUR politicians voted in by US have decimated OUR education system over the years and failed to repair it. Therefore many school-leavers are suitable prepared for the workforce. Many of OUR parents have failed in that duty, thus sending socially unprepared youth out into the world. OUR successive Governments continue to depend on work permit revenues for general funding. These are the primary causes for Caymanian unemployment.

    While there are cases of “THEM” finding excuses to employ US, that factor is secondary to the primary reasons!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Ah, but our politicians have shown that wit just a sixth (or third) grade education a child can grow up and be the biggest shot in the whole country, except maybe not quite as big as Dart.
      … but still. Big, really big. Big and free to do as you please. And big….

  24. Anonymous says:

    It comes down to the 3 Es. First they said we needed more education, some of us went back to university snd got another degree, then they said we needed experience, well we couldn’t get experience unless we were hired, then they said we needed exposure, we are getting that in a kind of back-handed way, we are exposed to others coming in droves and gobbling up all the jobs instead of business trying to assist by offering us on the job training, and cross training . Ms. RIvers please bear in mind that some employers will and do lie on these questionnaires. They also lie on their work permit application forms. They state a lower salary range on their job ad then go ahead and pay the permit holder more. This is the little trick used for years to prevent Caymanians from applying for the job and justified it with the comment that Caymanians would not work for the low salary. Do you think they will answer truthfully when to do so would prevent them from getting that work permit. Thank you for trying but please bear in mind that they will never give you a true survey.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would any company want to pay $10,000 to $20,000 for an ANNUAL work permit if there was a QUALIFIED local candidate?

      • Anonymous says:

        Because I want to help my friend out and hire him/her. This happens all the time. Just because you don’t know about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      • Anonymous says:

        Simple, they don’t want to hire us, they rather give the job to their friend back home who they have been telling how nice their condo on the beach is and also that they don’t have to pay income tax. Those $10,000 and $ 20,000 work permit fees are for upper management bankers and CEOs whose companies has millions of cash on their balance sheets and the directors are not in the day to day running of the company ( most times not even on the island) and normally is not involved with work permits. This comment about why would they pay the work permit if they could get a local is another excuse used to explain away the way some of you finagle and plot not to hire someone. I worked in the system for over 20 years and I saw it happened again and again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Education is obviously a key part but also the will to succeed and drive your self to be successful in all that you do. Commitment is a big part of being employed, giving your free time for others and making sacrifices to earn money. A lot of people are not willing to make these sacrifices and expect the employer to “move” the goal posts. If you need to work on a Saturday, its pretty clear you need to give up your late friday drinking session, BUT they will complain that Saturday isn’t a “work” day and if they want to stay in bed they can….hold on son, didnt you agree to work Saturdays as part of your employment contract when you joined? oh and wait, didnt you work every Saturday without fail until your 3 month probation was over?We even signed a letter for your bank stating you were an employee on the 91st day of employment so you could get a loan to buy a car? Now we must go through the long and painful process of issuing warnings, go to meetings with L & P to get you paid up and listen to all the heartbreak you have because the babies momma left you high and dry!!! This is just one example of what we have experienced as a Cayman employer. BUT we have some great Caymanian employees who have been with us for many years and continue to drive our business. we have had expats do a similar trick and expats who drive our business and work side by side with caymanians, jamanians and filimanaians. This type of news seems like its here to drive a wedge between the workforce which is not good! i can tell you. its life, people are people and a business owner should have the right to employ who he sees fit to complete the work their required to do.BUT he must also be fair which i’m sure if hes spending the money, he will be!

  25. Plus Cà Change says:

    “From mental health problems and poverty to criminal records and major skills gaps….”

    On the plus side, at least they are well qualified to run for political office.

  26. Anonymous says:

    this is great fodder for the Caymanian-bashers and job-deniers, but please remember that these stats are ONLY of the people who went to the Workforce Development Agency (NWDA) and asked for support.
    I’m sure this that, if adopted even more widely, this label will be unfairly applied also to the many educated, ambitious and hard-working Caymanians.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a bunch of croc! Come on Minister, did we not put the task of get them ready in your remit?
      Look for anything and you shall find. If we ever needed a new Education Minister it is now. Do a survey on that!

    • Anonymous says:

      If they were too stupid not to go, then they are too stupid to be employed.

  27. Anonymous says:

    It would be interesting to find out how many of the unemployed were actually educated in Cayman!

  28. Anonymous says:

    And therein lies the truth, finally!! And no expat conspiracy in sight.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Sadly, this is where the terms ‘unemployed’ and ‘unemployable’ get confused. I can remember talking to three teenagers in 2007 and they all wanted to be architects. The only problem was not one of them understood that you needed a heck of a lot more than a passable high school diploma to get into that line of work. The impression they all gave was that they expected a local company to take them on board and somehow hand them the requisite qualifications.

    There just seems to be a total disconnect between reality and expectations that has to be addressed. Bottom line – anyone we can’t master basic life skills, and there are a lot of people in this category, is effectively unemployable and CIG need to address that.

  30. Anonymous says:

    If the immigration law were only enforced and the schools actually operated at first world standards we would not face most of these problems.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hate to rock your world or burst your blame bubble but it is a local problem. Until you and others get past the denial and face facts the problem will continue. 2700 students expelled over a 5 year period from government schools.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Alas! Behold the fallout of easy access to cheap, imported labour in the Cayman Islands.
    Gone is the government’s incentive to properly educate, train, skill and safeguard many of our own people.

    If any Caymanian politicians (especially at the cabinet level) from the last 20 years even attempt to fix their mouths in order to suggest a vote for them in 2017 – we should collectively spit in their faces.

    This is beyond ridiculous. We need a complete overhaul.

    Clearly, those that benefitted from the status quo don’t give a damn about the rest of our people. Also, we must be clear – the people that have made up our successive governments represent those very beneficiaries.

    Wise up Cayman. It is past time we overturn this spoiled applecart.

    – Who

    • Anonymous says:

      Who, suspect ultimately that it would be a lot cheaper to train and educate Caymanians properly at all levels, than it is to fund the social welfare system. However whether CIG wants to or really understands it, I have no idea.

  32. Anonymous says:

    So true unemployment is around 0% then. There do not appear to be any people able to work who are unemployed.

  33. Dont blame businesses says:

    Here we go. More blame game. Establish a Technical and Vocational school Tara. That is the only answer.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are a number of websites where people may get a free or inexpensive education –, and are some to look at. These websites offer some great options for continuing and professional development. Even high schoolers are using these websites to improve their chances of success in University and their careers.

    • Establishing a technical and vocational school would suck up a lot of Caymanian unemployment and send hundreds of Jamaican and Philipino construction workers home.

      • Anonymous says:

        You would have to make sure you teach the Caymanians the simple work ethics like arrive on time, don’t goof off to smoke dope or check a woman, work hard and realise that you can’t pick and choose which days of the week you want to work. There are some excellent Caymanians in the workforce but far too many cannot even get employed by their own Caymanians because their attitude to work is CRAP.. Hence the need for Filipinos, Jamaicans, Indians etc.

      • Anonymous says:

        Doubt that one. Construction work is hard and in the hot sun. While the old time Caymanians were willing, the younger ones aren’t so keen to do hard labour.

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