Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin refused to back down on his pledge to deliver full Caymanian employment by the end of his second term.
Mr. McLaughlin delivered the opening remarks at the Fidelity CEO conference Thursday morning at the Kimpton Seafire resort and spa.
Premier McLaughlin doubled down on his pledge to deliver full Caymanian employment, promising to take the current rate of 6.2% down to zero by the end of his current term in office.
He also fired back at Chamber President Paul Byles’ comments from an interview with Cayman 27 this week.
“We want to have that percentage be low, as low as it can be, but it will never be zero.” said Mr. Byles of the Caymanian unemployment rate.”That’s unrealistic, and if anyone says that, I think they are just playing politics.”
After that interview, Cayman 27 reached out to the Premier to get his reaction to those who feel full employment is an unrealistic goal. He didn’t respond to queries, but Mr. McLaughlin answered Cayman 27’s questions loud and clear for everyone in attendance this morning at the Fidelity CEO conference.
“By the end of this term, we seek to have full Caymanian employment,” said Mr. McLaughlin, not backing away from what may be the most ambitious pledge of his political career.
This, despite criticism from Mr. Byles in an interview with Cayman 27 earlier this week that full employment may not be an unrealistic goal.
“I wish to reassure the chamber president I am not playing politics, or playing at all. I am very serious about my government’s determination to give every Caymanian who is willing, able and qualified to work the opportunity to do so,” said Mr. Byles.
Mr. McLaughlin touted Cayman’s economic growth, a projected 2.8% for 2018, as ‘an economy worth celebrating,’ but with a caveat.
“Government and the private sector must ensure that Caymanians are given opportunities to fully participate at all levels in the economic success of our country,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
He pledged to strengthen Cayman’s business staffing regime, and renewed the call for reform in job advertising regulations.
“We cannot continue to allow a low salary with few benefits to be advertised in Cayman whilst a more advantageous salary and benefits package for the same post is advertised overseas,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
The Premier delivered a shot across the bow to the recruitment agencies for their “negative impact on the employment of Caymanians,” a line from his speech that drew a few audible gasps from the audience.
After his speech, Cayman 27 asked the premier to elaborate on that remark, but were given the cold shoulder.
Premier McLaughlin wouldn’t answer any of Cayman 27’s questions, from either of the news agency’s two reporters in attendance.
In his speech, the Premier made the case that the rising numbers of work permits, now around 25,000 are not just a sign of a robust economy, but also an indication that government is willing to work with the business sector.
He called on the business community to hold up its end of what he called the ‘Caymanian contract.’