A trade school is setting up new literacy classes for would-be plumbers and electricians who lack the necessary basic reading and writing skills.
The new classes will launch in April to run in conjunction with the Community Vocational Training Centre’s trade courses. The school hopes to have all its operations under one roof by Easter, at a new location on land originally allocated to relocate the George Town Primary School.
At the moment, the site is a run-down, overgrown wasteland featuring four mobile classrooms. But Lorna Bush, administrator at the training centre, said she believes it can grow to become a facility for Caymanians to learn skilled trades.
The centre, which is operating at a temporary location, was launched last year to help unemployed Caymanians get practical qualifications. But some students have seen their progress hampered by academic problems.
“A lot of the students who come to us are not properly prepared for the world of work,” Ms Bush said. “Tradesmen like electricians and plumbers require a certain amount of reading and writing skill that some of our students need help on.”
She said the new literacy course would run over eight weeks – two sessions per week – instructing students in a variety of skills including reading, writing, basic computing, writing e-mails and “soft skills” such as personal presentation and punctuality.
A tutor is in place and the class is ready to begin 15 April. But private sector funding is being sought to help provide books and other materials for the students, she said.
The centre is looking to raise $7,500 in additional funding before the course begins.
Allan Moore, the centre’s founder, said the enthusiasm of students has been impressive and at least 10 graduates from his first class were now working as electricians. But he said some had originally struggled with basics such as using a tape measure or reading plans.
Mr. Moore said he hopes the new classes will help bring students up to standard and give them a better chance of finding work.
Ms Bush said the point of the centre was to help people who had not succeeded in school to excel in other areas.
With more than half of Cayman’s school children leaving high school without obtaining five GCSE “passes” (grades A-C) or equivalent), she said the need for alternatives was acute.
“It is proven that we are releasing huge numbers of students every year who will not be able to go on to the higher learning that would qualify them for the suit and tie professions,” she said.
Ms Bush said trades can provide a lucrative alternative for those who were not academic and would help prevent some from being drawn into crime.
A 2006 report, “Pre-disposing Factors to Criminality in the Cayman Islands”, highlighted the link between low educational attainment and crime, she added. She said the training centre can help address the opportunity gap for those who don’t do well in school.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the centre or supporting its programmes can contact Ms Bush or Mr. Moore at [email protected]