By Staff Writer
There’s been a strong call from the Caymanian Times talk show, The Panel’ for greater recognition and more opportunities for Caymanians in all spheres of the economy.
From all facets of the business sector, to public administration, and culture, the capabilities of Caymanians have been proven, yet there are persistent complaints that Caymanians are being denied opportunities especially in the jurisdiction’s international economy.
This was also one of the dominant issues in this year’s election campaign.
While that discussion continues at home with growing intensity, it’s noteworthy that Caymanians are excelling on the global stage in a range of sectors ranging from the airline and maritime industry, hospitality, medical, legal, finance and education.
Paradoxically, the argument is that Caymanians have struggled to establish the same prominence in similar industries based in their homeland.
Host of The Panel, Ralph Lewis (publisher of Caymanian Times) rejected the notion that Caymanians were unable of filling key roles in industry, especially in the private sector, on the basis that there were enough Caymanians “our talent pool to fill all the positions that we have here.”
Panel analyst Dr Roy Bodden, a past legislator, government minister and former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, said such views are rooted in competition in the jobs market aimed at denying Caymanians key roles.
“First of all, we have to consider the source where that statement is coming from. The source of that statement are competitors of Caymanians who want to retain or obtain a competitive advantage. So it behoves them to try to put down the competition.”
Making the case for Caymanians, the former legislator and educator emphasised that “we know that Caymanians and not lazy, we know that they are not indolent and we know they are quite capable of doing to most complex tasks. I say Caymanians are no less skilled, they are no less motivated than any part of the world.”
He maintained that “the source from which these complaints or criticisms come from are people that want to come here and believe that by putting down Caymanians that will give them a competitive advantage, but it doesn't work in my book.”
Weighing in on the issue, panellist Mario Ebanks also discounted what he felt was the unfair labelling of Caymanians.
He said the underperformance of a small per minority of people was being used against the majority of hardworking, aspirational and capable Caymanians.
“People are using that small percentage as a stick to beat all of us because they have their own agenda,” he lamented.
But the businessman and human resources expert pointed to the strong work ethic and achievement of Caymanians as examples to emulate especially in the maritime industry.
“We have a legacy and a track record of talent, talented Caymanians globally-renowned who went across the oceans and became captains and they were in demand simply because of work ethic and because of applying themselves and being bright and committed.”
Mr Ebanks said such examples were evident in other sectors such as banking, tourism and international aviation.
Both panellists Roy Bodden and Mario Ebanks listed a roster of Caymanians who are excelling in their chosen fields at home and abroad.
Host of The Panel podcast Ralph Lewis suggested that the examples of Cayman’s modern achievers and past trailblazers be highlighted to motivate and inspire others.
I think there are other things that we can do to dispel this. What I found is that motivation from colleagues or from other individuals is what drives someone to success,” he said.
“I think if we as a society ought to promote (them) in the media, on TV, on promos, to show the talent and highlight these people…We can have a list and have a database. We need to have some system or some programmes in place to show what greatness that they have achieved and have it in schools (etc) even on billboards to inspire students and other Caymanians.”
Recalling time-worn discussions about acknowledging, highlighting and promoting outstanding Caymanians as role models of success in their respective fields of endeavour, Mr Lewis observed, “We don't award people enough when they achieve greatness and I think that is necessary as we go forward.”