By Staff Writer
Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan led a press conference on Thursday outlining the efforts the Government was going to, to get displaced tourism workers who were willing and able to work back into the tourism industry. But he warned that anyone getting a stipend from the Ministry of Tourism must register with the Workforce Opportunities & Residency Cayman (WORC) portal as this would be mandatory from the 16th August.
Acting Director of WORC, Laura Watler, explained how the Government’s Remobilisation Committee would try to get Caymanians back into tourism jobs. She said the two committees working on this had a series of objectives. The Job Placement Committee was collecting data from surveys of the displaced workers and Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) members, the information from which would help them see what jobs were available and who wanted them. It would create a mechanism for job pairing which meant matching people with jobs, interviewing them and ultimately hiring them. The job training committee was looking at the gap analysis which identified what was needed in terms of human capital, training and development to fill vacant jobs.
The Committee was currently collecting data that would assist them in knowing who the displaced tourism workers were and the jobs that were available. Jobs currently available ranged from retail clerks and sales, HR, finance and administration, front desk and concierge, cooks and stewards and also include technical and IT, she confirmed.
The Stipend Survey undertaken by Government required to be completed by anyone receiving a stipend had already revealed that over 500 people were already registered with WORC, she said.
“Registering with WORC is important so that we know more about the potential employee in order to be able to place the job seeker correctly,” she advised.
However, the survey also revealed that only 33% of stipend receivers had actually registered with WORC, so the majority of displaced workers had not.
Ms Watler said the WORC team would work with candidates wanting to work in the tourism industry to ensure they had the right skills and training and that available jobs fitted with their career goals.
“We think this structure which will create a career path that will have long term success this is essential to the growth of our Caymanian tourism product and having Caymanians at the forefront,” she advised.
WORC, she said, served as a central place to support and manage the workforce that was ready willing and able to support the industry.
Acting Deputy Director of International Marketing and Promotions at the DOT, Gary Hendricks Dominguez, presented some key data from the tourism displaced worker survey. Most displaced workers were female (55%) and the median age was 47 and only 27% were 35 or younger, indicating the Government needed to do more to encourage young Caymanians into the industry.
“I encourage all young Caymanians who have not considered a career in tourism to visit ourcayman.ky to learn about the various training programmes offered by the DoT,” he said.
He went on to reveal that there were currently 3,396 displaced workers, with most living in West Bay, followed by George Town. Most served stayover visitors (64%) but the 36% who served the cruise industry were a large enough number to impact the overall tourism sector. The majority of jobs lost to the pandemic were housekeeping (12%), sales clerks (10%) and bus drivers (8%). 70% had over 6 years’ experience in the industry and 49% were not employed since the closure of the borders. Out of the 51% who were still employed, 74% were working less than 30 hours a week. 87% would like to return to the same job. Only 68% were vaccinated but out of those not vaccinated, 73% would consider getting the vaccine if they were employed in the tourism sector. 84% said they would be willing to participate in training and most people were interested in working in accommodation and guest relations, then as tour guides were next were interested in food and beverage.
Minister Bryan said the Committee was a public/private partnership and that their collaboration with the CITA was growing “stronger and stronger”.
“They have provided us with quantifiable data of employment opportunities for Caymanians that will become the integral part of our remobilisation strategy,” he advised.
CITA, he said, had identified over 1,500 jobs that needed to be filled, ranging from entry level to management positions.
In response, Marc Langevin, President of CITA said: “CITA members are committed to recruiting and training and building a strong foundation necessary to ensure the continuous success of Caymanians in our tourism industry.”
But Mr Langevin warned it would be a difficult road ahead to full reopening and also recovery for the industry. He said there were so many challenges that they were foreseeing in the reopening process. One would be the logistical coordination necessary to navigate the various stages of the reopening path proposed by Government for stayover, and later on, for the cruise industry. There would be obstacles in the remobilisation of work permit holders, and development of needed economic support for tourism-related businesses during the extended recovery period would also be needed, as well as long-term planning for the sustainable evolution of the tourism industry, the product and human capital.
Minister Bryan said having Caymanians in the tourism industry would create “an authentic and sustainable product in our country