More diving instructors pass

Eight more dive instructors have qualified through a local dive company. 

The Instructor Development Course is the most gruelling course in the PADI syllabus, said Ash McKnight of Go Pro Cayman. 

“Instructor candidates were assessed on their understanding of the PADI system including dive theory, classroom teaching presentations, confined and open water presentations and rescue diver skills. 

“The candidates also completed their Emergency First Response Instructor Course as part of the programme, meaning that they are now certified to teach first aid courses to divers and nondivers alike wherever they choose to work in the world.” 



Platinum Course Director Ash McKnight led the course and Instructor Development Course Staff Instructor David Patterson finished off with the instructor exams, which took place at Sunset House. 

The PADI examiner felt the candidates were well-prepared for the two-day examination and was pleased to congratulate each and every one of them on becoming diving instructors at the closing ceremony of the programme, Mr. McKnight said. 

“We had candidates from USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, and United Arab Emirates,” he said. “It truly was a multicultural course, with students from different countries all coming together for one passion – scuba diving”  

Successful graduate JT Knox said that he had enjoyed himself. 

“Where I come from there is little opportunity to complete programmes such as [this]. The course has been heaps of fun, I have learned lots and along the way made lifelong friends. My goal is now to find work here and call Cayman home”.  

Mr. Knox said he, along with many of his fellow graduates, will continue to study speciality instructor ratings during the next few weeks. These include deep diving, wreck diving and underwater navigation. 

IDC Feb 2012

The group of instructor candidates celebrate their success. – Photo: Submitted


  1. While I congratulate anyone who sets a goal and achieves it I have a comment to make as a Caymanian, who doesn’t care if my practical, fair views are called xenophobic.

    There are many young Caymanian men in school and unemployed who are constantly stating their interest in water sports industry. It is difficult to gain employment when the preference is usually in favour of foreign nationals, period.

    It would be interesting to note how many of these 8 ‘graduates’ were already employed in the water sports industry without such a crucial certification and one that should have been considered when work permits were granted.

    These persons should be monitored and if they were not in the diving industry on a work permit, it would be very interesting to see how easily they transfer their from their current positions of ‘necessity’ that could not be filled by locals in the first place.

    When so many foreign workers come here to work this type of situation has become the norm. They obtain the training and the claim to have experience (because they were hired in the first place and obtained the training) and now they have the qualifications. So in the same way 8 foreigners are brought here THEN trained Caymanians could be hired without having that formal qualification at the start and then trained.

    Where is CIO Ms Evans or Board Members? Are they noting that these persons who may or not be in the diving industry are not going to use training they obtained here to further push locals out?

    But as we know, they came here with less than the minimum, probably never swam in the ocean before but while here were giving employment, now training so they are ENTITLED to what ever job they want. Tell them their work permits are no longer renewed then they will claim that the training obtained by organisations in the Cayman Islands now give them the RIGHT to stay and work here.

    If I went to work in Canada (or New Zealand etc), attended university even married a Canadian national, I still would not be able to assert that I am entitled to get the job I want, but here in my homeland a different story is told.

  2. to bm:

    Perhaps one should do the necessary research into the point he/she is looking to make PRIOR to making it, so as to avoid spouting false claims.

    As someone who is an expat employed in the watersports industry, I see first-hand how few (zero) Caymanian applications my company receives for posted job opportunities.

    Additionally, the permit approval process dictates all employers must advertise for a minimum of 2 weeks any job opportunities so a Caymanian may apply at will, that employer must also be able to verify any expat applicant holds sufficient experience in the industry, that their experience supersedes that of any Caymanians who did apply.

    Scuba instructors specifically work in that industry because they love to do it. The hourly pay is minimal, the hours are unpredictable, often with periods of immense physical faitgue followed by periods of drought where no income is available. Surely these factors are relevant to the Caymanians who you propose are interested in the water sports industry, and are perhaps more influential in their decisions than your proposed scam of the system by the ‘evil’ expats.

    I have spoken to many Caymanians about Cayman’s diving, as it is of some of the best in the world, and often find a deep-seeded fear of the water and complete disinterest in spending significant time in it. I also know Caymanian scuba instructors. Like most jobs on this island, if there is someone willing, interested, and most importantly qualified to do it, their nationality should have little impact in their ability to do so. Xenophobia is as useful a trait as racism. All of the expats enabling the watersports industry on this beautiful island are a big factor in keeping Cayman from becoming Haiti.

  3. I’m amazed that someone could be so completely clueless about the state of the dive industry on Grand Cayman, and then choose to speak out about it.

    Those new instructors were not given that job training. They paid for it themselves, and were not employed at a dive shop prior to becoming instructors. The dive shops don’t hire divemasters and then teach them to the instructor level. That’s not how the system works.

    There are a few Caymanian dive instructors of course, but most of them are shop owners, not employees. Wy don’t you go speak to a few of them? Because your comment that young people are constantly stating their interest in the water sport industry is so ludicrous as to be off the scale.

    Unfortunately people like this actually believe these things they are saying.

  4. Why don’t we have anymore Cyamanian dive instructors?
    I tell you why, it is to much work. You rather sit behind a desk or a bank counter and let people wait for your l-z- a-s. to get up and help you.
    The diving business is a customer service high energy type business, locals are just not into that.
    Hand over the money while I don’t do anything for it.
    Sorry this just put me over the edge a little.
    Ash is a good friend of mine and I hate to see people criticize him for what he is doing.
    This is a great course and I have seen Locals in it and succeed. It is just hard work not cut out for everyone.

  5. @Case……how in the world can you take my points as criticism regarding what Ash or any other person is doing?

    Trust me I knew the real truth regarding employment in CI will get your attention.

    Yes, it doesn’t matter if they paid for the course or where you suggesting that they were entitled to that too? Boy get here for a few months, look around at all your fellow nationals and think gee can’t make it in Canada or New Zealand but gold mine here!!!

    I can even make a ‘bet’ that at least 1 (if not all) of the comments below came from a Canadian and yes I WILL DARE MS EVANS TO LOOK AT THE WORK PERMIT APPLICATIONS OF THESE INDIVIDUALS WHO JUST GOT THESE QUALIFICATIONS lol

    And for the record, this might be too much information but a very close relative of mine a foreigner received his PADI qualifications years ago, I am very familiar with the dive industry and guess what, I have personally been involved with organisations trying to place Caymanian young men constantly wanting to get into this industry. So I don’t need your research I have compiled it myself.

    again @ Case….Hard work not cut out for all? Really our natural pigmentation, living in the sun from the time we could walk has naturally given us the ability to adjust, it was OUR people that built this industry and you have the audacity to now say Canadians know about customer service?? But you see throw a stone and see who squeals the loudest? yup….the foreigners who think they can actually spin the truth by stating ‘nationality’ doesn’t matter……..stop telling your friends to help your friends from your home country then.

    @ OldDriver….you need to stop limiting your research yo dive shops. If you re-read my first post I said it was more than likely they are here on other jobs (hence for immigration to note) and took advantage of the course (fine) but now they WILL apply for the diving jobs AND feel ENTITLED to be given the opportunity.

    @ ExPats R Here..thanks for the reference but I don’t need expats of anyone to tell me what to read my points were related to expats coming here and feeling entitled and then calling locals lazy. If not for the locals our tourism industry would not have developed such a favourable reputation. Ten years ago, I’d go out to restaurants and just ask workers what part of Canada they came form and specifically BC.

    Bottom line, I’ve LIVED in USA, Canada, Jamaica and the UK so guess what your rhetoric below doesn’t phase me and yes my research of the dive industry is not limited to a few dive shops (really? that’s how you determine how many Caymanians are interested in the dive industry? SMH).

    So when people state Mexicans are ‘replacing the lazy Americans’, Spaniards Italians are ‘replacing the lazy English’ and the Indians/Pakistanis are ‘replacing the lazy Canadians ……that means ALL locals in those respective countries are lazy and not entitled to first choice at opportunities?? Come one you guys, you all have it so easy here it is no wonder you constantly use the lazy/xenophobic lines but note in my first post I knew that was coming.

    Anyway, as I do like research, tracking tends, and compiling reports (thanks to that Canadian education which I paid for but ever for once thought it entitled me to opportunities of my fellow Canadians classmates)…….so I have been noting persons willing to share their education/professional achievements, their generousity and in less than 12 months may share the obvious, you know, new job, promotions, permanent residence and even status.

    But if being a Caymanian means nothing, carries no rights obligations, then why not stop applying for it and just leave when your employer no longer requires your service. (Now that’s an interesting topic there….’What if.. Expats simply said Thanks for the Training, Safe Living, Passive Locals, Paycheck and left after their work Permits expired and never applied for PR or Status???? Don’t worry we’ll survive and all workers can be replaced.

  6. Dear bm: My name is Ash McKnight, I’m the PADI course director that was responsible for bringing this group of divers to the Cayman Islands to train in the dive industry and ultimately achieve their instructors rating.
    I would like to make it clear that out of the 8 candidates 7 of them came to this island for their training and were not involved with any kind of work nor did they have any kind of work permit as you have mentioned. There was 1 person that was on a work permit and that person worked at a local bar and is still employed at that local bar and is not involved in the dive industry at this point of time. Out of the remaining 7 candidates only 3 of them wished to remain on the island to find employment as dive instructors.
    The group did intensive training over a 3 month period in order to gain enough experience to work in the dive industry. It is estimated that between the cost of the course, their apartment rentals, dive gear purchases, the bar and restaurant tabs, the endless steam of take out pizzas, the taxi fares and movie passes that EACH student puts approximately 12000 dollars directly into the local economy. These students are not a burden on the Cayman economy; they are here with money to spend while gaining their divers education.
    Over the 3 month period this group did many reef clean ups, a roadside clean up in East End, they all participated with DOE and gained their Lionfish license and participated in many Lionfish culling dives. This entire group also volunteered and help work the Taste Of Cayman event.
    bm, you claim that you are very familiar with the dive industry, so you must also be aware of the difficulties that the local dive operators have in employing Caymanians for these positions. I presume that you must also be aware of the various initiatives that the dive industry have also tried over the years in order to attract the locals into this wonderful industry. I have personally trained many many Caymanians at all different levels of certifications including dive instructors training as well. Over the years I have also personally invited young Caymanians to come into our long-term courses for free. I would be delighted if I could help contribute to having more Caymanians in this business.
    So bm, this is my offer. Since you seem to be in a position and involved with organizations trying to place young Caymanian men who are constantly wanting to get into the industry, then can you please email me directly to discuss this opportunity that I’m giving them. As long as they are certified I will place them into our long term Advanced to Instructor course free of charge, less the PADI fees. Once again, I would be delighted to be able to train the locals so that they can find employment in the dive industry.

    Sincerely: Ash McKnight email: [email protected]

  7. @ Ash McKnight….thanks for the information and I will pass your email on to persons/organisations who have stated an interest. The high schools are also a good place to attract students, especially during their work experience period.

    As for the person that completed the course, as stated if here on work permit they will more than like not waste that time/money and seek jobs as dive instructors. But 3/7 wish to remain here to work goes to my point that once here they will ‘start looking for opportunities’. Why not return home the way we Caymanians do after we have completed training/education in other countries, injected funds in those countries? Instead, a programme held here will also be used as a stepping stone to first increase the market supply with foreign workers even though they were not here to ‘work’.

    I appreciate all your efforts, but the point is they have met the terms of their initial documented reasons for being here and if there are vacancies ads should be placed to get the most capable and experienced dive masters.

    Why should our tourists, locals not hire from a pool with applicants that may be more experienced than these 7? We see the increase in drowning incidents everyday so why not ensure we have the best and most experienced if a local can’t be obtained?

    Clearly, they will be given preference over many Caymanians because of this course, which is globally recognised, but their possession of this qualification a few weeks ago does not mean they are entitled to be given priority over other possible applicants…….hence they should respect the terms of their visit and return home until and IF there are positions that cannot be filled locally. otherwise we are simply saying, come here get qualified, volunteer and then have your choice of jobs. Not fair Sir.

  8. – if there are vacancies ads should be placed to get the most capable and experienced dive masters.

    Most dive shops are looking for people who are willing to work for next to nothing. Capable and experienced dive masters tend to want more money, which is why rollover policy doesn’t really play much of a role in the diving industry. After a while dive masters tend to leave on their own.

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