Deputy Opposition Leader Alva Suckoo says by his account, nearly 300 ex-pat workers opted to leave Cayman last year due to new pension changes.
He said he’s gathered that figure through conversations with business leaders. He said they also tell him those positions were quickly filled by a wave of new foreign workers, positions that Caymanians should have been trained to take over.
He called for a more sustainable approach to upskilling Caymanians.
“They need to be upskilled they need to be retained they are not getting that because it is so easy to apply for a work permit,” said the Opposition deputy leader. He said when it comes to addressing Caymanian unemployment education and training should be the focus.
“We need labour and we are still turning overseas for the labour when we could easily find it here if we were to put the investment in our people and that’s what we have not done,” Mr. Suckoo said.
He pointed to missed opportunities like the departure of foreign workers at the close of 2017 because of new pension law changes. Even though hard figures aren’t available to back it up how many left. He said it was a significant enough amount.
“It’s hard to say, its hard to put your finger on it, but I do know from speaking to different employers. I would anticipate that its well over 200-300 people,” he said.
He said those numbers are based on conversations he’s had with members of the business community. The Pensions Office said they only received 269 refund applications as of December 2017, 68 more than 2016.
“We still do not put measures in place to help those 68 upskill, get current training and be in a position to take those 68 jobs, regardless of if it was 68 or 600 we still missed an opportunity,” said Mr. Suckoo.
At present the National Workforce Development Agency is pushing more technical and vocational training with the hope of getting more Caymanians involved in TVET careers. Government is yet to announce when the next cohort of its Ready2Work programme will begin.