A new “hospitality school” aims to give Caymanians the chance to take advantage of coming career opportunities in the tourism industry.
The school, a partnership between the University College of the Cayman Islands, various government departments, the Chamber of Commerce and the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, is scheduled to open in September next year.
Students will combine courses at the university with practical sessions and on-the-job training at businesses, including hotels and restaurants, to work toward a City & Guilds vocational qualification.
Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the advent of Health City Cayman Islands, the proposed new cruise port, anticipated airport expansion, and developments such as Dart’s Kimpton hotel on Seven Mile Beach would create new opportunities in the tourism and hospitality trade.
He said, “The school is a hugely important part of what we are trying to do to build the academic infrastructure for success.
“It goes along with the physical infrastructure development. We are creating jobs in the tourism industry and we want Caymanians to have the skills to take them.”
A local industry
Department of Tourism officials believe getting more locals involved in the tourism industry is not only an important job-creator but is vital to retaining “authenticity.”
Shomari Scott, director of tourism, said, “As the students of the Hospitality School enter the local tourism marketplace, there will be an increase of knowledgeable and qualified Caymanians at all levels. “By empowering our people, from the young school leavers to mature professionals seeking career development, to be active in the tourism field, our visitors will see and interact with more Caymanians, thus infusing our tourism product with local flavor.”
He said the objectives of the school included providing a mix of academic programs at UCCI and on-the-job training.
Students will go through an “orientation semester” that introduces them to a wide variety of tourism careers through work experience.
“This will help students determine what areas of the industry inspire them, thus enabling a greater probability of choosing the right career path from the start,” said Mr. Scott.
He said they would also have classes that include financial management, the history of the Cayman Islands, customer service, and geography.
During the second semester, students will choose an area of specialization, combining theory and practical learning.
“Once they have earned their certification, students who are ready to work will be provided work opportunities in the industry, with help from the private-sector partners involved in the school. For those that wish to continue their studies, they will be eligible to apply for the Ministry for Tourism scholarship to pursue their Bachelors degree,” added Mr. Scott.
The cost of the initiative will be shared between the Ministry of Tourism, UCCI and private-sector partners.
“Due to the arrangement of using existing establishments and the UCCI, it is anticipated that the costs will be minimal versus the building of a physical new hospitality school,” said Mr. Scott.
Mr. Kirkconnell said a lot of effort had gone into putting the school together.
“We have worked very hard at finding solutions that would get Caymanians experience in the industry and getting the academic skills at the same time,” he said.