Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford told those attending the first Tourism Scholar Networking event that he hoped public and private sector resources could be pooled to build the Tourism Apprenticeship Programme.
The Tourism Apprenticeship Programme will be established in 2006, and will provide hands-on experience for students at university, and that will immerse high school graduates into all aspects of the tourism industry and thereby provide valuable work experience and exposure to the industry, he said.
The networking event, which took place Wednesday evening at the Westin Casuarina Resort, offered an opportunity to recognise the success of local scholars, share updates on the tourism employment market, build the foundation for the continued development of tourism’s most precious asset, its people, said Mr. Clifford.
‘The goals that we must all strive harder for are to educate, inform, encourage and facilitate all young persons who want to participate in the tourism industry. I know we can achieve this goal together.’
Mr. Clifford said, ‘I ask all of our tourism partners to register your company to participate in the Summer Internship Programme. This is the missing link in developing our young people for the tourism industry that needs our commitment and participation.’
Giving background information on the Ministry of Tourism’s Scholarship Programme, Mr. Clifford said it was initiated in 1996 as a mechanism to achieve more Caymanian involvement in the tourism sector, particularly at the managerial level.
‘It is designed for students who demonstrate strong evidence of their desire and intent to pursue an approved tourism or tourism-related discipline.’
He outlined that since its inception a total of 52 students have been awarded full or partial scholarships. Currently, he said, there are 37 students who are studying both locally and overseas. Their range of studies cover more than seven different disciplines related to the tourism industry.
‘As part of the program’s development, the Ministry and Department of Tourism have organized a series of activities to introduce the scholars to the leaders of the tourism industry, and provide a smoother and seamless transition from university to the Cayman Islands work environment.
‘Tonight’s event, the first phase of this strategy, is a ‘coming out’ party for the scholars to meet one-on-one with leaders of the tourism industry, discuss career plans, and to make contacts for employment opportunities.’
In pointing out the importance of summer internships, Mr. Clifford said that many tourism partners have hired young scholars for summer and holiday employment.
‘For some students, short term employment serves a dual role – financial and educational’.
Mr. Clifford said, ‘The value of having practical hands on experience is too great to be left to chance’.