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Employment 10 Jul, 2023 Follow News

Dr. Robert W. Robertson, President and Chief Executive Officer of UCCI

It will take a concerted effort by policymakers and key stakeholders to bridge the gap between Caymanians and non-nationals in the workforce.

That’s the main conclusion of an extensive and comprehensive study conducted into Cayman’s labour market.

The Labour Market Assessment Survey was carried out by Market Research Services Ltd (MRSL) for Resembid, the European Union Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID) which funds projects in Cayman and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

The exercise was carried out in collaboration with the Cayman Islands government agency WORC(Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman), UCCI(University College of the Cayman Islands) and the Chamber of Commerce.

According to the report presented at a recent conference attended by representatives from the government and the business community: “Without such efforts, Cayman can expect to see an increase in the reliance on non-nationals with work permits for the required skill sets especially as firms anticipate business growth and greater diversity in the range of jobs that will be available.”

The report’s findings were welcomed by Hon. Minister responsible for labour affairs, Dwayne Seymour. He remarked that the Comprehensive Labour Market Assessment was an essential part of an initiative to ensure that training opportunities being provided will supply the needs and future requirements of the Cayman Islands.

“The youth are the future of the Cayman Islands,” he said, “let’s continue to invest in our people, our greatest asset. Let’s continue to ignite the spark of sustainable development and make our islands the beacon of resilience and growth.”

The labour minister who is a strong advocate for internships, also encouraged employers to take on Caymanian interns and put them on the payroll once they have successfully completed their training.

The study shows that employers currently hire more persons on work permits than Caymanians.

Of a sample of 2,474 persons currently employed across 123 firms surveyed, 57 per cent ( or 1410) are on work permits compared to 43 per cent (or 1064) being Cayman nationals.

On the outlook for the job market, it shows that firms expect to hire on average 3 new employees in 12 months with a demand for semi-skilled and high-skilled workers in the future.

“Firms expect to shift from unskilled and high-skilled to semi-skilled, with plans for semi-skilled job positions being the most available in the future,” the survey carried out by Cayman’s MRSL reveals.

In its findings, it says persons classified as ‘underemployed’ desire more stable employment with 67 per cent of them expressing an intention to seek more stable work elsewhere other than their present employer.

Sixteen per cent are seeking more stable employment where they are, with only six per cent planning to stray in their current job until they retire.

The market research company interviewed a sample of 435 unemployed Caymanians and found that “lack of qualification is the main driver of unemployment with 32 per cent not qualified for available jobs, 13 per cent not interest in jobs currently available, 7 per cent saying lack of childcare was preventing them entering the job market and 6 per cent have not tried to get a job.”

The RESEMBID project being carried out in conjunction with the UCCI, is commended for being more aligned to certification.  “It should help these persons become more marketable by being focused on training in the skills that will be needed by the future largest employers,” was the assessment by MRSL.

However, it highlights what it refers to as “a misalignment between jobs of interest and jobs that will be available in the future.”

According to the study, “the labour market in the immediate short-term promises to be a vibrant one featuring a demand for a diverse range of skill sets.”

It says firms are confident about the future outlook of business as the large majority of the sample (76%) anticipate a need to hire new employees in the short term.

There’s a projection that the Cayman Islands can expect an increase in demand for semi-skilled jobs, which the report describes as “jobs that require certain abilities and training beforehand but not advanced training or specialized skill sets”.

Based on the findings of its surveys, MRSL said Its own ‘considered view’ is “there needs to be much effort on the part of the government, educational institutions and other key stakeholder groups including the business sector, to identify and implement strategies that could encourage Cayman nationals who are currently under- and unemployed to become interested in the jobs that will be available in the immediate future as unearthed by this research.”

In giving his assessment of the findings coming out of the survey, Dr. Robert W. Robertson, President and Chief Executive Officer of UCCI said: “This is very important for us at UCCI as we attempt to resolve some of these shortcomings in skills gaps in the Cayman Islands. We need to know definitively what those skills gaps are, what employers are looking for, and how we can best address them.”

He also commended the MRSL survey saying it can be used as a model in the Caribbean region and elsewhere.

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