Restart. The name means very little without some context. It took on a whole new meaning for us here at Baraud when we launched the country’s first public private partnership that tackled unemployment head on. The genesis for this initiative came one morning many months ago when we saw the rapid ascension in the unemployment figure. We were receiving more resumes than ever, people were getting desperate for work and companies simply didn’t have the opportunities or were wary to invest in people.
We thought how could we use our skills to tackle this issue and remove the barriers to unemployment? Our skill set is recruitment focused so we knew we had to channel this in a meaningful way to address the unemployment issue.
The first step was to understand the key components of such programmes. We know the recruitment landscape extremely well but an unemployment programme whilst it seems to be similar is a much more complex.
Unemployment can be caused for many reasons, economic decline, personal issues, lack of training, inter-generational unemployment taking hold within a household and poor education to name but a few. We knew that whatever programme we came up with would need to take into account these factors and a host of others if we were truly going to tackle the issue of unemployment.
We hired a specialist in the area, Kayleigh Wright who had worked in this space in the UK managing some of the largest back to work programmes in the UK. With her assistance we built a 13 week programme whereby we took people on the unemployment register (NWDA) and then went about finding roles for this unemployed.
The pilot has 22 delegates. We firstly interviewed, reference checked police checked and screened them. We met with over 60 people but could only select 22 for the pilot programme as we were financing the programme ourselves, marketing, staff salary and health and pensions. The differentiator for this programme is that they will be our employees, employers will get a trained, screened professional and pay a stipend for their salary. They will essentially get to try out the person with no obligation save that there is permanent job at the end of the programme should the person prove to be a success in the role. In a time when most companies cannot afford to make a bad hiring decision this scheme provided them with a safety net to make that decision. We provided our expertise pro bono, and supported both the employer and the employee for the duration of the programme.
We did a week of training before they started their new roles, the Baraud staff came together and delivered training on interview tips, workplace etiquette, social media and resume writing. In addition we are bringing the entire class back each week for further up skilling and training to make them more marketable.
We encountered people with every kind of personal story, those who had been sidelined by employers, had simply lost their way, caught out by the recession or indeed one young lady who had spent time in prison. All of these people had one common thread, they all wanted to get back into the workplace. Our hope is to roll this out and all the signs look positive that government will step up and support us. Unemployment is not just an issue for those not in work, it is a problem for us all to bear and share. The following governmental press release below shows some positive signs for phase two of the Restart programme:
“GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands – More than 20 people have been placed in jobs through a joint partnership with Government and recruitment agency Baraud.
The Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs, along with the National Workforce Development Agency, teamed up with Baraud in September to kick off ReStart, an employment programme aimed at getting 22 people who are Caymanian, married to a Caymanian or Permanent Residents with the Right to Work into the workforce.
“This first phase has been a success,” said Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin. “We have committed since day one to get jobs for Caymanians and this partnership with Baraud has done just that for 22 people who were looking for employment. But it won’t stop here; our Government will continue to ensure that Caymanians have jobs.”
Under the programme the successful job candidates underwent one week of training from Baraud, will work full time for 11 weeks and there will be a final week of assessment. Hopefully candidates who have proven themselves during the 13 weeks will become permanent employees of the companies, which include Walkers, Cost U Less, Kirks, Digicel, Security Centre, AMB Construction, Androgroup, Pool Patrol, UBS, Butterfield, Mourant, Harneys, Bodden & Bodden Litigation, Fosters, WestStar and EFG Bank.
“I want to commend the employers and businesses who stepped up to the plate to help make this pilot programme work,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “I hope other businesses will take up the challenge and help us ensure that unemployed Caymanians get jobs.”
Employment Minister Hon. Tara Rivers said she was pleased with the turnout.
“We saw this as a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said Ms Rivers. “We’re going to make sure these 20 people have what they need to become and remain productive employees. After the pilot programme, we’ll meet with Baraud in the hopes of rolling out similar additional job placement programmes and putting something more permanent in place to ensure jobs are available for all Caymanians who are willing and able to work.”
Baraud is covering the cost of pension and health insurance contributions for the workers while the employers are paying a fee to Baraud to offset employment subsidies for the employees during the 13-week programme.
To be eligible for the jobs, candidates had to be registered with the National Workforce Development Agency.
Following the first week of training, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about the programme and its effectiveness.
“It lets Caymanians know and feel confident that there is still hope by some people and companies pushing to help them seek work when all else fails,” wrote one employee candidate.
Another candidate said the training helped her build confidence and improve her interview skills.
“Please continue the programme,” wrote another employee candidate. “It truly works and helps people to get back into the workforce.”
In its report to Minister Rivers, Baraud said those placed in jobs were between 19 and 46 years of age, including one ex-offender.”