New acting boss takes turn at WORC

  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Laura Watler has been appointed as the new Acting Interim Director of Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC), as Jeremy Scott, the previous holder of the post, resumes his duties as deputy director of compliance, leading the effort to enforce the laws. Watler is on secondment to the beleaguered agency from the Portfolio of the Civil Service. Despite promises from the previous premier, Alden McLaughlin, that the transition from immigration department to WORC would be much more than a name change, the department which deals with the fundamental conflicts inherent in Cayman’s labour market continues to spark criticism.

Watler, who will be the third person to head up the agency since it was created in January 2019, is one of several recent Caymanian hires as a part of a new management team. Marshiene Juman will be the new head of customer care, joining the civil service from Health City Cayman Islands, and Allison Lovinggood has been appointed as training and development manager, according to a release from the department.

WORC’s National Training and Development unit also added programme coordinators Allison Anglin, Sheena Whittaker and Kandie Hurlston-Ruiz, who now have the responsibility to provide planning and implementation of programme activities that support specialised employment programmes. The Employment Services unit also added to their team, which will now be managed by Tania Ebanks, bringing the total number of officers and managers who assist Caymanians in finding employment to nine.

Ministry of Employment and Border Control Chief Officer Wesley Howell said, “With these appointments, the mission of WORC continues, which is to provide opportunities for Caymanian workers, ensuring that Caymanian owned businesses have the human resources necessary to aid in their success, thereby, strengthening the economy and global competitiveness of the Cayman Islands.”

Watler, who holds a Master of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Surrey, was instrumental in a wide range of initiatives resulting from the pandemic. This included being seconded to Hazard Management Cayman Islands as the NEOC Operations Liaison Officer, where she worked with almost every department or authority in some capacity during the 100 days it was in operation. She was also seconded to the Strategic Reforms Implementation Unit to assist with the Soft Border Reopening Programme and the critical projects of the Quarantine at Residence Programme, which included the Technology, Monitoring and Compliance Teams.

As WORC’s new temporary boss, she will be facing a significant challenge, given the recent increase on local unemployment due to the challenges presented by the pandemic but with over 24,000 work permits in operation.

“I welcome and look forward to working with the entire WORC team and especially with the passionate, driven and inspiring recently hired Caymanian women as we continue forward with the vision and mission of WORC in enabling employment for Caymanians whilst equally ensuring economic prosperity for our Islands,” Watler said in a release about the new jobs.

The release said that Juman “is responsible for providing leadership, developing and implementing the Civil Service Customer Pledge DELIVER and related strategic plans to manage and continually improve and deliver outstanding customer care for both internal and external customers”.

Lovinggood will primarily be responsible for developing, coordinating and delivering quality training programmes to equip staff at all levels effectively. She will offer supervisory and support to Administrative staff to achieve and maintain the required competency levels.

Officials also said an open and transparent recruitment exercise for the director of WORC will be conducted soon.

See the full release here.

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