New Chamber boss berates job protectionism

| 01/02/2016 | 10 Comments
CNS Business

Chamber of Commerce President Paul Pearson presenting Past President Barry Bodden with service award

(CNS Business): As local politicians and the private sector become increasingly at odds over the growing number of work permit numbers in the face of increasing local unemployment, the new president of the Chamber of Commerce has made it clear that its membership will not support any kind of limit on permits. Paul Pearson, a developer from Ireland who came to Cayman 16 years ago, said the “protectionist and nationalist agenda of limiting work permits” to address unemployment among Caymanians was “ill-advised”.

The new Chamber boss, who took up office last week, said the private sector needed more qualified and motivated workers but limiting permits would only cause employers to downsize their businesses, outsource positions or reduce their local operations.

“We need a national dialogue with honest and frank discussions on this topic,” he told the Chamber audience at the annual general meeting, where the new Chamber Council was elected. “The Chamber is willing to engage its membership and the elected government to develop sensible strategies that will provide the private sector with access to the skilled local and international labour that is required to sustain and grow businesses and the economy.”

Pearson said many young Caymanians were “ill-prepared for the current workplace” and that education reform at all levels was required to bridge the gap between the expectations of employers and what students are learning in the classroom and the job prospects in the marketplace.

“This will also require an open and frank dialogue with all stakeholders so that we can all direct our limited resources to the most effective use,” Pearson said, as he made it clear that the change of leadership did not herald a change in the Chamber’s position that the business community is not to blame for unemployment.

Highlighting the need for more economic growth, he said the Chamber had plans in 2016 to “raise the volume on this subject and to launch a public education campaign that will provide our nation with information about why economic growth matters”, and said the public needed to support growth.

In his parting speech, immediate past president Barry Bodden said that without a thriving private sector, Cayman had no future. He said the campaign would help the business community become stronger advocates and more vocal in lobbying government and politicians on all sides about the crucial role the private sector plays in ensuring a better future for Cayman.

“As an organisation, the Chamber continues to fight to preserve the spirit of free enterprise in the Cayman Islands,” he said, repeating comments from his speech at the Legislative Luncheon last September. “Contrary to what some people in our community may say or believe, businesses really do create jobs … businesses are not the enemy.”

Bodden also took aim at the employment minister over the failings of the NWDA, the management of the unemployed and the lack of engagement over the labour law and other important employment problems.

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Category: Employment, Local Business

Comments (10)

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  1. Cyclops says:

    Jobs are the tip of the Iceberg, what has been lost is Caymanian Ownership of the economy. Just look around……

  2. Anonymous says:

    What the chamber fails to mention here is that Cayman is the only place in the world where work permits seem to transform almost automatically into status. Its called a work permit – you have a time to work and a time to leave so that the young generations are not neglected. And really, take your business elsewhere? huh? like where? the UK, Australia, Dublin? Or perhaps Jamaica? Bahamas? Aruba? BVI? Notice where I’m going with this, none of these destinations have any better standard of life to offer those they hope to recruit.

    Lastly, you say that there is too much risk involved with hiring Caymanians and that the government should pay to train them and compensate for that salaries whilst on probation but what guarantees I ask you, do you have, when you recruit someone from half way around the world to entrust with the progression and deliverables of your relevant establishments? None – you are just continuing your colonial policies/upbringing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Time for a Union. Our hand has been forced by the Chamber, who do not obviously respect the Caymanian people and our employment needs.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Firstly, congratulations Paul Pearson in your appointment as C of C President.
    It is very interesting that there are two sides to the
    “protectionist and nationalist agenda of limiting work permits” (Maybe 3 or 4)
    1) The Government and Immigration agenda to stamp Denied on virtually everything that comes across the desk, trying to help Caymanians.
    2) Caymanian business owners small- medium sized that refuse to hire Caymanians.
    (I have had this conversation with a few Caymanian business owners and many have stated they will not hire Caymanians for various work related issues)
    Instead they hire Jamaicans , Philippinos ect, less drama, reliability issues ect.

    Above , these are observations I have made over the years, broken down to the simplest way of describing it. I am also aware of companies that employ a very high ratio of Caymanians in various capacities. Cudos to them.

    I am not trying to be inflammatory, just maybe offer an idea as a starting point to change and assist youth in obtaining employment experience and building a work ethic that can carry on in their futures.

    Maybe I am out of touch and the world has changed so much that parents don’t want their children (teens) to work , evenings and weekends, a few hours a week, to line their pockets with a few dollars and learn skills , respect and a work ethic.

    When I was a high school student, elsewhere in the world, Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Subway , fast food restaurants employed many high school students.
    I , for the most part do not see that here, I see many expats on permits working these jobs.
    Why is that?
    I worked with people who later became engineers, doctors and lawyers. They worked to save money for college via these unglamorous fast food jobs. They learned about hard work , earing and saving, working on a team, respecting your superiors. Through hard work they earned what they ended with.

    Perhaps a teen job fair should be sponsored by companies such as this. A move to employing our young people to prepare them for the future. Continue to import labour as needed, but if a teen is willing to work and give his or her best to an employer, they will be better for it in the long run.

    While this idea may not solve all the Islands issues it is a start to change attitudes and get people moving in the right direction at an age where such things can influence their lives and futures in a positive manner. It will take an effort from, the schools, employers , government and youth.

    Is this doable?

    • Anonymous says:

      The new Chamber President proposes more and more development at a faster pace when we are unable to control the effects of our out of control development over the past several decades.

      Not all business is good business.

      Out of control development leaving Caymanians behind is not good for Caymanians.

      Look at the hourly wage rate paid to fast food workers in your USA compared to the addiction to cheap labour rates here in the Cayman Islands, then you will see why Caymanians will not work for slave wages.

      The proposed Minimum Wage is far too long overdue and far too low for someone to earn a liveable wage.

      Yes, many, many employers prefer to employ work permit holders because they control every aspect of their lives and demand that they work beyond the hours they are contracted to work, earn less that reported to Immigration, have to pay their own pension, health insurance and work permit fees.

      Yes, many Caymanians will not work under these conditions, and rightly so.

      Like it or not, trouble is coming.

      • Anonymous says:

        I once worked a summer job delivering 500 free newspapers once a week for a nickel a piece wage,just so I could eat. It got me a better job later because someone respected my worth ethic. A good attitude and taking a wage that is offered is better than turning your nose up at it and missing future opportunities you create for yourself. That entitlement attitude gets you nowhere. Help yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Multigenerational CAYMANIANS are an increasingly rare species that deserve protection from the invasive species.

      Chamber President, you are wrong, protectionism of Caymanians is right and proper, government is required to protect their own, if not then they failed in their primary reason to exist.

      Multigenerational CAYMANIANS speak up while you still can.

    • Anonymous says:

      A good post in my opinion. The Chamber appears to believe that they are entitled to hire whomever they want from wherever they want whenever they want! Their latest statements show a total disrespect and insensitivity to their host country. “Go away and let us do as we please otherwise we will leave.” Oh well, another group of bullies that we have to cut down to size!

  4. Anonymous says:

    He is so right. There is no Caymanian unemployment and the crazy policies of the PPM only risk reducing the size of the economy with their inane zero-sum game pre-election policies.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, but you are totally of out touch with the challenges faced by most Caymanians who do not have special connections or rich relatives. I give the Hon. Alden McLaughlin and the elected Government credit for at least trying to address the problem and all we can hear from the Chamber is that it’s not their problem! How many jobs have to be created before one Caymanian can get one of those jobs? 500 or maybe you prefer 1,000? Unfortunately if the business community continues along this track of denial we will ALL suffer the consequences.

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