November 28, 2023

The Editor speaks: Is the bar set too high in tourism?

Colin Wilson

was appalled to learn that the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) have stated they could only find six Caymanians out of 102 potential employees to fill the vacant tourism jobs.

It is very obvious that a number of employers are already getting ready for our tourism industry to open its doors again and ‘attempt to discredit Caymanians and justify using cheap labour.’

Those are not my words but Newlands MLA Alva Suckoo, who was speaking to CNS.

He said he was unable to find the list of jobs reportedly behind the drive, and despite being a partner, the National Workforce Development Agency was not given the list either!

He further said he is convinced some bosses are justifying their work permit applications by capitalizing on the alleged failure of the job drive.

The International College of the Cayman Islands provides an Associate of Science Degree in Business class but taking the course and qualifying doesn’t automatically ensure you a job.

You see, the majority of tourism jobs are for low skilled workers and that means low pay. We have a minimum pay scale here. Is that the reason why employers don’t want the Caymanian labour that is readily available? Is it much cheaper to employ overseas labour on work permits ? Of course it is.

It is a well reported fact that tourism has a high labour turnover with wide range of remuneration levels and schemes,

We rely on tourism to feed the coffers of the government so that we all live here can also benefit. Is this why we tend to turn a blind eye to what is happening. Job descriptions for the most menial of jobs, including first entry ones, are deliberately written to discourage our local jobless from applying.

The low annual average wages paid in hotels, restaurants and similar establishments are due to industry-specic characteristics such as paying only minimum wages because of tips and hiring a substantial amount of part-time work.

If the bar is raised too high very few Caymanians will fit the bill, so why is it lowered for those who need work permits?

I leave the last words to Suckoo:

“It goes without saying that we could all benefit from further education and training. This is not unique to Caymanians,” Suckoo added. “But I am very disappointed that many tourism businesses continue to ignore the available labour pool of capable Caymanians and continue to bypass them in favour of persons from jurisdictions who have created economies based on remittances from abroad and whose academic standards are lower than ours. It is a disservice to our people for CITA to declare that they could only find six Caymanians out of 102 potential employees when they cannot now provide a report on the persons they attempted to hire.”

To read all his interview with CNS go to:

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