Hundreds of unemployed Caymanians and their spouses turned up at the Lion’s Centre Monday (13 August), for a seasonal temporary employment through the National Community Enhancement programme or NiCE programme, but it’s the first time the programme is being held during the summer. The reaction to the NiCE programme at the Lion’s Centre was mixed. Some people said they were happy for the chance to earn some cash ahead of the new school year, while others said they want more long-term employment.
West Bay resident Neil Powery said he appreciates the opportunity for work under the NiCE, but he said having temporary employment is not good enough.
“Me being able to be here and to be a part of this is a one hundred per-cent appreciated but this one-week, two-week job thing doesn’t really cut it for us Caymanians that have bills and responsibilities,” he said.
Mr. Powery was among hundreds at the Lion’s Centre on Monday signing up for employment under NiCE. Fellow West Bayer Leemar Ebanks was also there and he said Caymanians should put their best effort forward if selected.
“I just hope that all locals realize that it’s a great opportunity and we must just continue to try our best,” said Mr. Ebanks.
Almost 600 Caymanians showed up to last Christmas for the NiCE programme seeking work and Infrastructure Minister Hon. Joey Hew said since then the numbers have decreased. He said he wants to see those numbers to drop even more by offering permanent jobs to some of those participating in the summer programme.
“We do see a lesser number here today than we saw in December, I think its fairly significant. We will be looking for about 20 full-time positions out of the programme and this is something we look to do going forward,” said Minister Hew.
George Town Central lawmaker Kenneth Bryan was also on hand at the NiCE sign-up, he said workplaces need to give Caymanians the opportunity to prove themselves.
“You have to take a chance on Caymanians rather than getting another work permit, so that would be my solution. Another part of it would be trying to upskill these individuals.”
The NiCE summer programme will run for two weeks and Mr. Hew said the Government will run another NiCE programme for Christmas. The budget for NiCE was estimated to be around $700,000 which includes both the summer and Christmas cohorts.