Over 600 Tourism Stipend Recipients Gain Full-time Employment, Transition to new Tourism Recovery Grant programme
Over 600 former recipients of the Displaced Tourism Employees Stipend have returned to gainful employment in the Cayman Islands, according to the Ministry of Border Control and Labour following a thorough review of the stipend programme.
These individuals will now automatically transition to the newly created Tourism Recovery Grant programme which will provide them with two months of financial support at a reduced rate of CI$1,000 for February and CI$750 for March.
In March, all recovery grant participants will be asked to answer a questionnaire on their current status to find out if they can transition out of the grant programme or if further support is needed.
February payments under the recovery grant programme will be made on Friday, 18 February.
Responsibility for administering the tourism stipend programme moved from the Ministry of Tourism & Transport to the Ministry of Border Control & Labour on 1 January 2022. Since then, recipients were asked to respond to a survey seeking to determine their employment status and other vital information in order to better serve existing needs.
Wesley Howell, Chief Officer in the Ministry of Border Control & Labour said, “At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Displaced Tourism Employees Stipend was an emergency measure put in place to assist all of those Caymanian workers who had suddenly lost their incomes. Since the reopening of tourism in November of last year, the economy and local situation have steadily improved, and we are pleased to say that around 625 previously unemployed stipend recipients are now back to work full-time.”
Chief Officer Howell continued, “As the Ministry responsible for Caymanian employment, having responsibility for this stipend changes the focus to a more active pursuit of full-time employment for these job seekers. With the new Tourism Recovery Grant programme, we are, stepping away from simply administering stipend payments without continued vetting and assessment and moving to providing proactive support in both finding jobs and providing training and certification opportunities to those who have resumed employment.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Border Control & Labour Hon. Chris Saunders said, “The Government has been working diligently to get our people back to work. We understand that there is no greater satisfaction than being in control of your own destiny through working at a job or occupation you love and being a contributing and productive member of society. This is our hope for all Caymanians. And we have taken action to make this hope a reality. There have been several training opportunities offered to stipend recipients specifically in the tourism field through the Ministry and Department of Tourism in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA) beginning in 2021, and we have also jointly organised a Tourism Job Fair that was well attended. These efforts continue, combined with new endeavours.”
Deputy Premier Saunders also noted the ongoing work being done by the Ministry of Border Control & Labour in conjunction with Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) to encourage both current tourism stipend recipients who remain unemployed as well as all Caymanian job seekers to register via the JobsCayman employment portal.
He said, “The leadership teams at the Ministry and at WORC have made a concerted effort to encourage tourism stipend recipients to both register with WORC for employment assistance and to register via the JobsCayman portal to assist in their search for full-time employment. At the moment, there are over 800 jobs available on the JobsCayman portal – with many of them in the tourism industry. We have tourism industry partners who are eager to employ Caymanians as the hospitality industry continues to recover from the dire effects of the pandemic.”
Acting Director of WORC Laura Watler said, “We continue to encourage all Caymanian job seekers to register with us to ensure that they have the first opportunity at the available jobs being posted. We understand the limitations with accessibility to the job listings and we are working on solutions to remove these. In fact, this week, we will begin advertising all local job listings in the printed weekly newspapers so job seekers can see the available jobs and then follow the registration process to apply online. This is being done in tandem with our efforts to make job listings on the JobsCayman portal visible without registration and looking to make the application process through registration more streamlined.”
Chief Officer Howell noted that the new Tourism Recovery Grant programme arose out of the awareness that some formerly displaced tourism workers will require financial assistance to make ends meet given potentially reduced hours with the tourism industry not being back to its full speed. He also acknowledged the situation of self-employed tourism business owners who are back to work and considered fully employed but are not operating at their usual capacity, with a significant reduction in revenues.
He said, “We fully understand that being back to work and fully employed does not mean that people are back to their former level of income. It is understood that people will still need some support. To underscore that these people are no longer considered to be displaced workers but are instead part of the industry’s post-pandemic recovery, this support is going to be provided via the Tourism Recovery Grant programme, which will not be solely a financial assistance programme but will also offer training and other employment and business support.”
Deputy Premier Saunders also referenced new programmes being put in place to provide remaining stipend recipients as well as recovery grant participants with training in new fields that would offer technical and vocational certification, as well as government-subsidised on-the-job training with participating local businesses.
The Deputy Premier said, “Through these new efforts, we hope to provide training and certification to stipend recipients, recovery grant participants and other Caymanian jobseekers that will equip them for success for the rest of their working lives and provide the Cayman Islands with a local workforce of certified technical and vocational employees and entrepreneurs. We will also be paying people to receive on-the-job training, while feeling the pride of doing a day’s work. More details on these efforts will be published in the coming weeks once we finalise agreements with training providers and local businesses.”
Tourism stipend recipients who did not complete the original survey sent out in early February have been advised that they will not be processed for payment this week, and have been encouraged to complete the survey at their earliest opportunity, in order to ensure that they have provided their most accurate and up-to-date information to the Ministry of Border Control & Labour.
For the 2,400 tourism stipend recipients and 625 recovery grant participants whose payments are being processed this week, they will receive their payments as normal either via direct bank deposits or cheque payments as previously arranged. Requests for a change from direct bank deposit to cheque cannot be accommodated at this time. No new applications for the displaced tourism worker stipend are currently being accepted.
For further information on the tourism stipend programme and the tourism recovery grant programme, please email email@example.com with any questions.
Issued by: Ministry of Border Control & Labour (CIG)