Scholars off to a flying start

A few weeks into the second term of the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme and 17 Caymanian students are looking forward to the year ahead.

The TATP kicked off on 10 September, 2007 with a brief induction ceremony at the International College of the Cayman Islands, attended by the Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford, who offered words of advice and encouragement.

During the first term the students completed foundation courses at the University College of the Cayman Islands and the ICCI in six areas: computer knowledge; communications; customer service; basic maths skills; tourism studies with a focus on the importance of tourism to the local economy and of the benefits derived from practising sustainable tourism; and professional, personal and workplace development, with an emphasis on public speaking, time management and etiquette.

‘By all accounts the first term of the Tourism Apprenticeship Training Programme was a success,’ said Minister Clifford. ‘The majority of students passed the foundation courses and those who were unsuccessful will be given an opportunity to repeat while still continuing with the second term. We are well on the way to achieving our goal of increasing the number of qualified Caymanians in the tourism workforce and bringing some much needed stability to the industry.’

‘The programme is going well for its pilot year,’ commented Kira Hayes Ebanks, business manager and instructor at ICCI. ‘The Ministry and Department of Tourism and the Tourism Apprenticeship Advisory Council have invested a lot of time, energy and resources into making it work. In addition, UCCI and ICCI created an effective partnership which has allowed us to administer the programme successfully using the strengths of both institutions.’

Hyacinth Williams, who chose Housekeeping Supervisory as her individual area of concentration, said. ‘I found the foundation course to be a learning and valuable experience. It allowed me to acquire the skills to deal with associates and people inside and outside of the tourist industry. The Business Communication course, in particular, taught me how to communicate and act in a more professional manner with my employer and associates.’

Herman Harris, who successfully juggles a job as Houseman at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman with his studies, thought that the foundation courses were excellent: ‘The tourism class was very important for me as it taught skills relevant to the industry I work in’.

The second stage of the TATP, which started on 7 January and runs through to April will see the apprentices cover the core competencies required for their individual areas of concentration – Front Office Operations, Food Preparation, Food & Beverage Operations or Housekeeping Supervisory – through a combination of three days in the classroom and two days of work experience.

On-the-job training will then take place from May to August at hotels and restaurants which have opted to be a part of the TATP.

Ambitious, soon-to-be Chef, Bethany Ebanks, said that she is most looking forward to the hands on aspect of the programme and believes the TATP will allow her to get a foot in the door with an employer.

Yvonne McLean, another Housekeeping Supervisory student, said that this term will allow her to experience what it is really like to work in a hotel, having worked in the industry but never in a hotel before.

‘The response from the private sector has been phenomenal,’ said Mr. Clifford. ‘Most of the major hotels are involved in the pilot, including the Westin Casuarina Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman Beach Suites, The Reef Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman and the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. We are also currently talking to members of the industry’s restaurant sector so that they too can work with the Apprenticeship Programme.’

Commenting on the TATP as a whole, Belinda Blessitt Vincent, Assistant Professor, Hospitality & Business at the UCCI, said: ‘As with all new programmes, there have been some downsides but we have been able to use these as opportunities to correct deficiencies. Thankfully, we have a great team – Council members, Ministry and Department of Tourism and private sector partners – who have been working really hard to ensure success in our many efforts.

Princess Wright-Lloyd chose Food & Beverage Operations as her core course due to her natural drive and outgoing personality. ‘The Programme seemed to be the perfect opportunity to develop my personality and use it for the betterment of my country. It will help me to further my career and I hope to be able to teach others what I have learned.’

Edith Mattis sees the TATP as the chance to fulfil her life long dream of interacting with people on a daily basis through working in a hotel front office. ‘Having the certificate will say a lot to a potential employer about my ability to do the job. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve worked very hard to meet each new challenge. When I’ve completed the programme, I believe it will be a big push for me towards achieving my career goals.’

For more information on TATP, call Alma McKenzie at the Department of Tourism on 949-0623.