UCCI research reveals work skills gap across region

| 10/07/2023 | 32 Comments
Cayman News Service
UCCI President Robert W. Robertson, one of the authors of the paper

(CNS): The Cayman Islands and other countries in the Caribbean are dealing with a very limited qualified pool of workers who lack job-ready skills, according to new research by the UCCI, published in London. The research, which included a survey conducted among Rotary Club members from eight islands in the region, found that the skills gap has grown post-pandemic.

Interviewed respondents said many new employees lack an understanding of how the workplace functions. Basic issues such as time management and working with internal and external customers were viewed as problematic, the research revealed.

The Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Studies at the University of London has published a preliminary research paper, which was prepared by UCCI President Robert Robertson and Peter Paul, the college’s special project assistant.

The paper, Community Perceptions of Workforce Skills in the Caribbean, included a survey of 80 Rotarians, most of whom worked in management, as well as twelve semi-structured interviews.

The Cayman Islands (27) and the Bahamas (22) had the most respondents. Almost 80% of respondents were identified as senior managers in their companies, and the largest responding group was the financial services sector.

Of those respondents, 45% suggested that their workforce was not globally competitive, and 51% stated that lower literacy and numeracy skills of candidates represent significant challenges in hiring employees. Many identified the need to “upskill” new employees to meet their requirements. However, the survey appeared to indicate that 60% do not have adequate employee training plans in place. 

Those who took part said the top challenges facing business with respect to local recruitment were the limited qualified pool of candidates and that among those candidates, there was a lack of job-ready skills, such as IT and other soft skills, as well as a deficiency in technical and vocational training. A number of interview respondents noted the need for a formal apprenticeship system.

The work also found that 64% of respondents believe the regional skills gap has grown post-pandemic and that addressing the skills gap is important for companies and countries as they build a competitive advantage in today’s global economy.

Dr Robertson said that understanding the evolving needs of business and society was important for the education sector. “Universities must adapt to the changes that are evident in this Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said. “It is critical that universities provide students with the right skills to be globally competitive in today’s digital economy and skills gap research of this nature is a way to build that understanding.” 

Developing a database to understand the regional skills gap can serve as one step in assisting in addressing the issue, the researchers found, adding that a continued focus by stakeholders, including the education sector, governments, businesses and Rotarians, on the importance of vocational skills can assist in closing that gap.

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Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Not to worry! Humans will soon be obsolete and beholding to robots and AI. Caymanians will be the first on the human trash heap, being the most unqualified for anything!

    Sig: Caymanian Baby Boomer – Last of the Caymanian generations who received good local education!

  2. anonymous says:

    All these cheap labor imports who are being paid what Government itself calls Starvation Wages are highly intelligent and qualified though.
    For sure Shirlock.
    A local school leaver doesn’t stand a chance even in entry level jobs.
    Look at the wendy case last week!
    Local lawyers have to lobby for new laws to ensure they are hired and made partners.
    New status holders find out they now become unemployable after decades here.
    The name CAYMANIAN is now worth spit.

    • Anonymous says:

      “A local school leaver doesn’t stand a chance even in entry level jobs” ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, if you are talking about office jobs. For blue color jobs a school leaver must have basic training and skills as well. When I was in school, basic carpentry training was required. Some schools were teaching Electrical and Plumbing basics.

      So this is no unique to Caymanian school leavers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Watch the politicians start to act surprised and shocked now lol. Some of us have been saying tis for decades but a furriner has now said it so it deserves immediate attention.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Big problem is that a lot of workers need to learn to come to work on time or early and be ready to work. Take an open mind and be open to learning (be like a sponge), try to go the extra mile and apply yourself to your job. Don’t be a drama queen!

    • Anonymous says:

      No going to happen if the job involves flipping burgers at $6/hour

      Let’s be real now, even the imported cheap Labour doesn’t show up in time with a brilliant attitude. Why do you think there is such a high turnover at those sweat shops ? Everytime I went to Wendy’s I saw a new face and the food quality was horrible (Burt fries, missing ingredients, no napkins, no ketchup packets).

  5. Anonymous says:

    Please Stop comparing. Immigrants coming to the Island is qualified, but not all of them where they come from are qualified too. You see only successful immigrants remains in the Island, but you don’t know how many left the island due to lack of skills etc.
    You take any part of the world, skillset of that area is different, always need higher skillset from another area.
    Stop blaming, all Caymanians can’t be financial experts since it is a financial country. Commonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      They are not immigrants but expats on a work permit.
      True, some expats in financial service are not CPAs or CAs or CFAs and are lacking the relevant experience. It is also true that their skills are different. Some are just college graduates with no work experience whatsoever.
      I don’t know if certifications are mandatory for a work permit.
      So why do they get the jobs? They are willing to work long hours, 7 days a week if necessary. The work must be done and deadlines are met, regardless ones skills and experience. If one has to work till 2am, because he is inexperienced, he will do so. Caymanians refuse to work such hours and at the first opportunity quit, taking 9-6 jobs( trusts, funds etc).

      • WhaYaSay says:

        So you’re an avid supporter of “no work \ life” balance I see.
        Enjoy making someone else rich (or maybe you’re the employer and need someone to make you rich🤔)

      • Anonymous says:

        you forgot to say “at %6/hour slave wages”

    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      8:53, But Caymanians can smarten up and realize that there are lots of jobs in the financial services sector if they studied the right things.

      Get tired of Caymanians complaining that expats are taking all the jobs in financial services sector.

      Start studying the right subjects and get jobs here. Amazed how many people run off to UK and U.S. and study subjects such as sports management, communications, etc and then come back here and wonder why they cannot find jobs here.

      The public education system here needs to cater subjects to the job needs of our islands. Example, economics and business subjects should be mandatory to graduate from a public high school.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians letting Caymanians down.

    Rinse & repeat.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Skills gap ? No sh!t Sherlock. What did that cost, to tell us what everyone already knows ?

  8. Anonymous says:

    The thing I want to know if only Caymanians have problem reading and doing Math. I work with foreign nationals that can’t even write a proper report . Yes let the so call greats in Cayman run for office . If you can’t make changes were the hell you come from how can you do it else where. If I can’t clean my house how am I to clean yours . Real Caymanians please wake the hell up and stop fight down each other just to fit in .

    • Anonymous says:

      You work with people who can’t write a proper report? Reading your post, I’m not inclined to think that you are the best person to assist them.

    • Anonymous says:

      What kind of reports you’re talking about?
      I won’t say anything about your comment, it speaks for itself.

  9. AOEC says:

    This research is a valuable resource for understanding the current challenges and opportunities in developing a skilled workforce in the Caribbean. It emphasizes the importance of targeted efforts to enhance vocational training, adapt education systems, and promote collaboration among various stakeholders to build a competitive and resilient economy in the region.

    UCCI is the ideal institution to address the skills gap identified in the research. UCCI’s expertise and commitment to education invite all stakeholders to its TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) programs. These programs provide a platform for upskilling employees and implementing comprehensive training plans. Additionally, UCCI recognizes the potential benefits of establishing a formal apprenticeship system to bridge the skills gap further. By engaging with UCCI and its TVET initiatives, stakeholders can actively contribute to developing and enhancing a highly skilled workforce in the region.

  10. Realist says:

    It’s not schools, it’s almost entirely parenting. Cayman school receive far more money than even the richest countries in the world.

    Unsuccessful children are the way they are because of low calibre parents (often including absent fathers). Parents should be in a stable, married relationship, children must be actively supported, they must be infused with a disciplined attitude to education, and they must refrain from crime. By contrast, children from certain groups arriving in US elementary schools are often unable to speak properly, use cutlery and their general intellectual development is already 18 months behind better-parented peers. As the expression goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Or, in computing terms, “garbage in = garbage out”. This explains why many recently immigrated families often have exponentially better performance than peers of similar economic status. It also explains why black Africans outperform superficially similar groups in London: cultural attitudes toward education, work, police and crime are determinative. Similarly, black African immigrants in the US outperform inner city US blacks many times over. So it’s not about race, either, as some would assert.

    How *do* societies prevent multigenerational failure? One simple solution: stop breeding out of wedlock. We know that kids raised outside of stables marriages perform appallingly. Successful societies are those with powerful disincentives to unmarried reproduction. Some references:

    “Despite the powerful and understandable taboo on stigmatizing one-parent families, social science has now demonstrated rigorously, and causally, that children do better if they are reared from birth to adulthood by two parents from whom they are genetically descended.” The Future of Capitalism by Paul Collier, Kindle page 1,761)

    —— “All forms of parenthood are not equally terrific — not for the kids. Countless longitudinal studies of actual outcomes for children (as opposed to well-meaning researchers asking kids how they feel about stuff) show that, incontestably, children have the best outcomes when they are raised by their genetic parents, who — crucially — are married. This is perhaps the one area in which science and the teachings of the church are in agreement. It is true, incidentally, even when the figures are weighted for income differentials, and it cuts across all races. Last week’s report by the children’s commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, warns that the traditional two-parent family, in which the mum and dad are the genetic parents of their kids, is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Nearly a quarter of children born since 2000 are in single-parent households, and nearly half have been at some time in their lives. Why does the marriage thing matter? Because cohabitees are five times more likely to split up during the first three years than are people who feel their relationship is enduring enough that they subject each other to the harrowing procedure of getting wasted on a stag or hen night and then the marriage ceremony. People remarry, of course. But various studies suggest that stepdads and stepmums do not have quite the same investment in their recently acquired children, and abuse is often prevalent, no matter how often they tell you that they love little Jayden just as much as if he were their own hellspawn brat. But it is with single parents that the real problems lie, the problems we are storing up for the future. We know that, in general, kids raised by single parents do less well at school and are more likely to be impoverished, more likely to use drugs and alcohol, more likely to develop mental problems and less likely to get a well-paid job. That has a cost not just for the child, but for the state. Even ignoring that cost — which is difficult to quantify — there is the cost to the state of the single parent. On average, single mums and dads receive 66 per cent of their income from the state, and almost half are reckoned to be in so-called relative poverty. Last year the amount of money we paid out in benefits rose to £212 billion: it rises ineluctably, year after year, and will rise even more sharply in future because the offspring of single parents are far more likely to go on to be single parents themselves. It is a calamitous cost to our society, eating up a greater and greater proportion of our total welfare bill. (Rod Liddle, Saturday September 03 2022, 6.00pm, The Sunday Times)

    By way of example, please read this evocative US article – it is a superb exposition of the disconnect between left-wing rhetoric and the reality of the underclass: https://www.commentary.org/articles/naomi-schaefer-riley/invisible-child-poverty-survival-andrea-elliott. The author concludes that the dysfunctional children ought to have been taken into care. I would go further and would have sterilised both parents at an early stage. The consequences of not doing so were brutal to the unfortunate children who resulted – and to hard-working US taxpayers who were forced to subsidise other people’s poor life choices.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. I’ve said it for decades. People should get a licence to have children. They must pass a test, and undergo mandatory training. Fail the test or the training, or be unsuitable as model parents to raise children in the correct manner an no licence. Breed without a licence and the child is removed and placed with good parents who don’t have a child of their own.
      Its the only way to prevent the collapse of society. Stupid and criminal minded people have far more children than model couples, so we are becoming overrun with illiterate criminals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget to thrown in an exorcism every once in a while.

    • Anonymous says:

      ” I would go further and would have sterilised both parents at an early stage. ”

      We can only pray that your Nazi ass is never in charge of any policy affecting people.

      You are weird and you need help. And a hug probably. Ew. I can’t be the only person that sees comments like this and feels immediate disgust. Thank god, it’s not up to you. Random question? Did you go to uni? Do you have a degree in anything related to what you are talking about or are you just cherry picking from random articles that support your argument. I say that because you sound ignorant af AND i can’t possibly imagine that you sat down for 4 years and actually studied psychology, sociology and human development.

      I can tell from the sources of information you’re copying and pasting to support your shallow simple minded perspective.

      And ppl are thumbing u up? The ignorance on this site never fails to surprise me.

  11. Truthsayer says:

    The limitations of the Caymanians has only gotten worse not due to the global pandemic, but due to the decline of the family unit and other socioeconomic factors.

    Combine broken families with poor parenting, unmotivated children and poor public education, and the result is a poor workforce.

    Uneducated, unmotivated, unreliable, with awful soft skills.

    Fix families, fix schools, and Caymanians can be competitive candidates for employments, but that will require tough decisions and discipline and support.

  12. Anonymous says:

    it is shocking to see the limitations of caymanians in the workplace. and the scarier thing is that cig is being run by people with these basic limitations and can barely do simply maths…
    we live in a wonderland where the best people in our community are prevented from be able to run for office.
    and people wonder why nothing get done by government and the same issues are being talked about for decades.


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