Youth gain from career workshop

About 50 teenagers got a taste of the working world through a two-week summer programme organised by the National Youth Commission in conjunction with the Department of Youth and Sports.

Clara Smith, policy coordinator of the commission, was one of the driving forces behind the Careershop, which ended 12 August with a ceremony to award certificates.

‘I felt strongly because public schools took life skills out of their curriculum due to Ivan. A lot of these kids were going to university this year and we didn’t want them to go unprepared. We wanted to give them an insight into the Cayman work force,’ she said.

The free workshop, open to 13- to 18-year-olds, gave participants a chance to see firsthand how various companies operate.

Katherine Whittaker, deputy director of the Department of Youth and Sports, explained that they approached companies with larger facilities.

‘The goal was to expose young people to different career options and for them to see people in the work environment of the career they are interested in,’ Ms Whittaker said.

Participants visited Foster’s Food Fair, Walkers, Paramount Carpet, the Public Works Department, KPMG, Arch & Godfrey, the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, Caribbean Utilities Company, the Planning Department, the Royal Cayman Islands Police and the Health Services Authority.

When the students weren’t visiting companies, they were listening to guest speakers and learning about different aspects of the job-hunting process.

Michael Woods, 15, one of the participants, gained a lot from the experience.

‘We basically learned how to be in an interview, and how to write resumes and cover letters. I didn’t even know what a cover letter was before. I gained a basic knowledge of certain aspects of the business world,’ he said.

Michael added he would recommend others to attend future workshops.

‘Anyone interested in a career should come out. It was a very educational experience,’ he said.

As part of the closing ceremony, Jenny Manderson, director of the NYC, and Dalton Watler, director of the Department of Youth and Sports, spoke to the students.

Ms Manderson stressed the value of a good education.

‘I encourage every one of you to get the best education you can get. Prepare yourself by going to school and taking advantage of workshops like this,’ she said.

Mr. Watler offered inspirational words to participants.

‘Life is not easy. You have to go for your dream, with plenty of desire, common sense and love,’ he said.

Mr. Watler added that he loved his own job.

‘My job is to try to bring young people into sports and provide them with the necessary tools and practice to do well at sports and make them better citizens of this country,’ he said.

Ms Whittaker would like to continue offering the workshop on an annual basis.

‘But, if possible, we’ll do it on a quarterly basis with corporate support,’ she added.

Ms Smith is looking to organise internships for young people for the fall, and next summer add a junior camp for younger children, aged 10 to 13.

She added that she wanted to encourage more community service and have young people look more at blue-collar jobs.

‘These types of jobs aren’t getting the credit they deserve,’ she said.

Ms Whittaker spoke highly of the workshop and the participants.

‘We thought it was very successful and very encouraging. They were a wonderful set of young people who wanted to be here and gained from it,’ she said.

Sponsors Cingular, CUC, MJS Plumbing and KirkConnell Brothers Ltd helped to defray programme costs, which the NYC covered.