Twenty apprenticeships are on offer from the Ministry of Tourism to give Caymanians the chance to train for a career in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Starting on 10 September, this first one-year-long Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme is open to all Caymanians, particularly high school graduates. It is also available to those already working in the industry to allow them advance their career.
Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford announced the programme at a press conference at GIS headquarters Tuesday morning.
‘As the Minister for Tourism it is important to me and to the government that we create a cadre of Caymanian hospitality professionals in occupations traditionally under-represented by Caymanians.
‘Apprentices should walk away at the end of the year with the technical skills and work experience necessary to succeed in today’s fast paced tourism industry,’ he said.
The scholarships are for students to train in the following occupations: front office operations, housekeeping (beginning at the supervisory level), food and beverage operations and food preparation.
The value of the training ranges between $10,000 and $20,000 depending on the area of study, he said.
The scholarship package includes tuition, uniforms, training materials and tools, and apprentice stipend (toward transportation and other expenses).
The costs are being shared by the public and the private sector, with the public sector responsible for the first two terms, and the private sector the third term.
The Tourism Apprenticeship Training Advisory Council has been working on this course for some time and there is significant private sector involvement on this, Mr. Clifford said.
‘What really differentiates this programme is the level of public and private sector partnership. Members of the private sector who are part of the steering committee have been involved from the initial stages of formulating the programme through to the actual delivery of the programme itself,’ he said.
Apprentice training is the oldest method of preparing employees for practical occupations, he said.
‘Based on the philosophy of learning by doing, apprentice programmes provide participants with vocational skills and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction leading to certification. In the case of the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme successful students will walk away with the recognised Caribcert certification.’
Caribcert is a professional certification programme designed specifically for the Caribbean tourism industry, based on standards established for 45 critical occupations in the tourism and hospitality industry.
‘The Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme will guarantee a supply of high qualified Caymanian workers that will raise the level of professional competency within the tourism workforce, bring a distinct cultural flavour to tourism products and services, and give much needed stability to the industry,’ he said.
Sharon Banfield, deputy director of Tourism, Product Development with the Department of Tourism, noted that the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme is fulltime, and lasts for 38 to 40 weeks.
The first term will see the apprentices complete foundation courses at the University College of the Cayman Islands and the International College of the Cayman Islands, covering skills such as numeracy, communication, computer applications, customer service, tourism studies, and professional, personal and workplace development. The second term will cover the core competencies and technical skills required for each occupation (Caribcert); and the third term is work experience at accommodation and food and beverage facilities throughout the island.
Resort Manager with the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Chris Sariego, said that within the private sector restaurants and hotels are forced to go outside the Islands for some positions because they don’t have applicants.
‘This is the main reason why we selected the front office, housekeeping, culinary food preparations and food and beverage, because these are the areas that we tend not to get so many applicants and we said ‘let’s give them the skills that they require so we can hire local Caymanians’.’
He added, ‘This programme is fantastic because it covers all the areas needed either to start in one of these positions or to get to the next level’.
Four major hotels, The Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, The Hyatt Beach Suites, The Westin Casuarina Resort and The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are on board with this programme.
Ms Banfield said they are working closely with CITA to get more businesses on board.
Mr. Sariego encouraged anyone interested to apply, saying it’s a great opportunity to embark on a tourism career.
Application forms are available from the DoT. They are due by 24 August by 3.30pm. The selection panel will then meet and by 31 August all candidates will be contacted regarding the status of applications.
For more information and details on how to register, contact Ms Alma McKenzie at the Department of Tourism on 244-1253 or email [email protected]