Students get passport to excel

The latest group of 24
Passport2Success students celebrated their graduation recently, sharing
official accolades, a series of awards and best wishes from Premier McKeeva
Bush and Education Minister Rolston Anglin.

At an afternoon ceremony at the
Wharf Restaurant, the students gathered with government officials;
representatives from programme sponsors Butterfield Bank, CML Offshore
Recruitment and LIME; Programme Director Shannon Seymour, Programme Instructor
Elizabeth Ramkissoon and a series of counsellors to mark completion of the
12-week programme.

Four of the graduates addressed the
50-person gathering, briefly describing their experiences with
Passport2Success.

“When I started, I had a stinking
attitude,” said 18 year-old Overtha Bush. “I spoke disrespectfully to others
and to anyone that said things I didn’t want to hear.”

She was expelled from John Gray in
2009 for fighting, and completed her schooling at the Alternative Education
programme.  When she graduated she thought
it would be easy to find a job, but quickly found herself “with nothing to do.”

She heard about Passport2Success
from a relative and applied “because I was tired of sitting around.”

After her initial courses, she
said, she gained work experience through a placement at Caledonian: “I was
worried about what the staff would think of me, but it was a great experience
and I found something I really liked: marketing.

“When I left, I was given an
evaluation, and told there were a few things I needed to work on, but that’s
all right and I have made a promise to myself to continue to work on improving
myself,” she said.  “I have changed; my
mother says she has seen great changes in me. This is the best decision I have
ever made.”

Mr. Bush underlined traditional
virtues of hard work and determination, exhorting the students to continue
acquiring skills.

“For years, I have hoped for a
programme like this; overcoming barriers and working smartly and passionately.
The future of these Islands depends on people recognising that we cannot rely
on others, but must seize advantages whenever they occur. Passport2Success
means you should never lose the willingness to learn,” he said.

Minister Anglin told the students
they could rely only on themselves.

“Remember and take away everything
you learned in this programme, especially how to look within. Everything comes
from inside.  Challenges and frustrations
are going to come and how you respond determines where you are going to end
up,” he said.

“Take as much responsibility as you
can; the person who knows the most will survive the longest.  It’s not enough for a business to need
Caymanians; we need skilled Caymanians who will become irreplaceable
employees,” Mr. Anglin said.

One after another, the four
graduates offered similar testimonials, describing angry attitudes, abbreviated
school careers, damaged confidence and an unwillingness to accept the demands
of either education or employment.

“I graduated from John Gray in
2009, but didn’t care about exams and never studied,” said Nicholas Ross. “I
was accepted at UCCI, but left in December (2009) and thought it would be easy
to get a job: I would make out a resume, get a call, do an interview and be
employed. But I made out resume after resume, applied to company after company
and got no answers. I could not understand why,” he said.

Applying to the Passport programme,
however, he realised he had no communications skills.

Now a customer service agent at
Owen Roberts International Airport, Mr. Ross thanked the programme instructors.
“I would not have the success I have today without all of you at the
programme.”

Johnathan Seymour, 17, joined the
group as a diversion.

“I thought it would be fun to join
Passport, but it turned out to be more challenging than I had thought. It made
me realise I needed to get serious and stop being a joker,” he said. “I learned
how to write a resume and a cover letter, I gained more patience, learned to
listen to feedback and gained confidence. I would encourage other young people
to attend this programme.”

Created last year by the Ministry
of Education, Training and Employment, the Passport2Success programme seeks to
give school-leavers and out-of-work youth a chance to improve their employability,
boosting both personal and professional skills, providing practical training in
job-specific areas, work experience, exposure to employers, career guidance and
a demonstrating commitment to hard work.

Operating out of the International
College of the Cayman Islands, classes convene five days per week from 9am to
4pm, for four 12-week sessions per year.

Each student receives a mock
“passport,” earning stamps upon completion of a section of the programme.

Participants earn a weekly stipend
and a bonus for each stamp earned, which is payable at the completion of the
12-weeks.

In return, instructors and
counsellors address such skill gaps as literacy and information technology and
teach students how to navigate the process of securing and retaining a job and
preparing them for the realities of the workplace.

The original programme started in
April, exceeding expectations. Of the 22 students in the initial intake, six
now attend the University College of the Cayman Islands while eight have gained
full-time employment.

Of Monday’s 24 graduating students,
Passport’s second intake, six have full-time employment while others have
secured temporary work over the holidays and seven are preparing to attend the
University College of the Cayman Islands in January 2011.

A third session will be launched on
10 January with 25 students.  Passport2Success
is free, open to all and requires no qualifications or work experience.

 

To gain a place, applicants must
submit a registration form, which can be obtained from the Wellness Centre, at
[email protected], or by calling 949-9355 or visiting www.passport2success.ky.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I think this a great achievement because it shows a totally positive approach to youth employment and is indicative of the home grown potential in the Cayman Islands.

    It stands in stark contrast to the current policies in the UK that have have been described by one critic as, all stick and no carrot, and we could certainly learn from this.

    Congratulations to all involved.

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