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.