Several young Caymanians celebrated the completion of their stint in the PassPort2Success programme at a graduation ceremony held at the Wharf on 25 July.
The programme, which is a Ministry of Education, Training and Employment initiative, has proven effective work-skills training for many Caymanians between the ages of 17 and 20.
It consists of three main components: work-skills training, community service and work experience.
Monday’s graduating group of 21 participants in PassPort2Success were the first of four groups to complete a new component of the programme that will challenge current beliefs.
With support from the business community, participants of P2S shadowed an individual in an entry-level position for two days.
One of the challenges faced, according to the facilitators of the programme, was changing ideas about what is considered entry level and working through issues of pride and that “prevent our young people from accepting the foundational jobs that will provide them with a starting place for a successful career.
“With this group of young people, the programme wants to drive home the idea of what an entry-level position is and the fact that there is great honour in working in an entry-level position, as it is the foundation and starting point.
It is important for young people to understand the value and importance of these positions,” said Tasha Ebanks-Garcia.
She said starting from the bottom and working one’s way up was the only way to truly understand how a business is run.
Local organizations supporting the programme by providing job shadowing placements were Foster’s Food Fair, Kirk Supermarket, Papa John’s, Karma and Wendy’s.
“The PassPort2Success programme provided a unique opportunity for the business community to interact with aspiring employees and future business owner.
I was extremely impressed with the quality of questions, the general interest and the diversity of dreams,” said Matthew Wight, managing director of the NCB Group/Karma and Papa Johns.
Out of the 97 Caymanians to have passed through PassPort2Success, since the programme ran its fourth cohort since launching the original pilot in April 2010, 63 percent of those young people are now employed and the pilot group is now 76 percent employed, which indicates that they are using the skills learned through Passport2Succes, organisers said.
They said the data showed employability of participants was raised by 2
0 per cent.
“While the employment rate is one way of measuring the success, attitudes, goals and friendships cannot be measured,” said
Mrs. Shannon Seymour, opening speaker for the PassPort2Success programme.
Minister for Education and Training Rolston Anglin congratulated all the youngsters who had made it through the programme, saying some did not make it because those who did needed to be meaningfully impacted and would not simply be ushered through.
“It is my hope that one day this programme will not be needed. We need to realise that education and young people’s needs cannot be separate focuses and our education system should reflect that,” he said.
The minister said it has been a farce to believe that as a nation the Cayman Islands would produce 15- and 16 year-olds who make proper decisions and seemlessly take up their place in society.
“We need to integrate them. The highest rate of unemployment around the world is from 17 to 24. Young people need to be in formal higher education until they are at least 20 or 21,” Mr. Anglin said.
Participants of the programme spoke about how they confronted their own issues and had to speak properly, dress appropriately and maintain a level of decorum in order to keep their place, as no room was made for mediocrity.
Course Facilitator Philip Wilson told the audience that, “It still takes a community to raise a child,” and expressed his confidence in those graduating from the programme.