Cayman 27 – ARCHIVE

Work permit policy to blame for Caymanian unemployment, says group

Cayman is home to some 25,000 work permit holders, and more than 2,000 unemployed Caymanians, according to the latest data we have.

But those with the group Caymanians Against Economic Injustice told Cayman 27 those numbers don’t add up. The group wants to see Caymanians participating in the country’s economic success. They said immigration policies are standing in the way of just that.

“We have this disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and the gap seems to be getting wider,” said Richard Bernard of Caymanians Against Economic Injustice, who feels the country’s leaders are not adequately looking out for the have-nots.

“In the last two and a half years, that the PPM have been in power, we have had an increase by over 5,000 in work permits,” he said.

“We have over 25,000 work permits right now, we have approximately 2,000-2,500 unemployed Caymanians, and we have the newspapers every day full of classified jobs,” explained Lorna Bush. “There’s something wrong with that equation. All we are saying, let’s get out people employed first.”

George Chollette told Cayman 27 Caymanians are being shut-out of the construction industry.

“You’ve got a lot of people coming in here and getting a construction license to run a company, and then they employ their own people,” said Mr. Cholette, who said it’s far too easy for foreigners to set up shop in construction. “As long as they pay that money into immigration department, they receive this license, and that is part of the problem. And the people that are getting these licenses are not Caymanians.”

“I don’t think that because we give out work permits that takes jobs away from Caymanians. I think it’s a mixture of things,” said George Town MLA Winston Connolly. He suggests that focusing on the work permits issue may be myopic. He told Cayman 27 the country needs to address the skills gap issue, while employers must do better to understand the Caymanian work force.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, in terms of the solution because the problem didn’t happen overnight,” said Mr. Connolly.

He said it will take work, and input from government, employers, and workers advocates to solve the country’s unemployment quandary.
Government has said they are aware of myriad issues at immigration, from employers abusing the system to chronic cases of job-hopping.

It is looking at ways to make the system better for Caymanians without disrupting the economy to do so.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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  • Every work permit application that is submitted to immigration is done so with a copy of the job advertisement for the vacancy being filled and the details of any Caymanian that has applied. If they are qualified then the permit application will be denied and the vacancy given to the Caymanian. I fail to see how it can be stated that the 2000 unemployed Caymanians is due to expats taking their jobs when you consider this. I have worked in the service industry for 4 years here in Cayman, every year my position is advertised in the local papers. In that time no locals have ever applied for the position. Hence the fact I am still here !!!!

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