Business input ‘key’ to tourism school success

New school to start in September with 25 students

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Hospitality leaders are being urged to transform their boats, back offices and kitchens into training centers for young Caymanian students to learn the tourism trade on the “front lines.” 

The success of the islands’ new School of Hospitality Studies, launching in September, will depend on the participation of tourism businesses, industry leaders were told at a forum to officially launch the school to businesses. The forum was held at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman on Tuesday. 

The school, which will provide 25 students with free education in the tourism trade in its first year, already has substantial industry buy-in with a host of major players involved in designing the course, which includes a mix of classroom work at the University College of the Cayman Islands and real-world experience in hotels, restaurants, dive shops and other businesses. 

There have been more than 70 expressions of interest from students or their parents for places at the school, but just five official applications so far before a deadline of Aug. 8.  

Wayne Jackson, recruited from a similar role in Turks and Caicos to be the hospitality school’s director, said he expects to fill all 25 slots. 

Industry leaders, including restaurant boss Markus Mueri and Ritz-Carlton general manager Marc Langevin, will interview potential candidates for the school. Mr. Mueri said character and enthusiasm would be more important than academics. 

“It is important that we get the right people. Students need passion, talent and ambition to succeed in this industry. If we have that, we can do the rest and create the whole package for a good career in tourism. 

“We want to get school leavers and take them from the school lifestyle to the employment lifestyle so when they end up on your doorstep, you have a person who is on time, who has good eye contact, who can shake hands and is someone you can be proud of in the future,” he told fellow business owners at the event. 

Students will get an internationally recognized City and Guilds qualification once they complete the course. More importantly, said Mr. Langevin, they will have the industry experience, connections and know-how to get jobs in Cayman. 

He told business owners the course had been designed with the end in mind – “you.” He said all students completing the course should be work-ready and employable anywhere in the industry. 

“This will expose the students to the many facets of the industry, let them know what is available, help them find their passion and go from there,” he said. “What we need from you is to provide that mentorship – if we have 25 students, we want 25 successes.” 

There will be an academic component to the course, including basic math and geography relating to Cayman’s main source markets, according to Clive Baker, a senior policy adviser at the Ministry of Education, who has been involved in the two-and-a-half year process of developing the school. 

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the school would be a vital component in ensuring the successes of the tourism industry – which is in the midst of a record-breaking year – and would have a real impact on the lives of Caymanians. 

“If don’t have Caymanians front and center of our tourism product, then we have failed. The hospitality school will address this deficiency by providing the training necessary to qualify Caymanians to perform in the roles which are predominantly carried out by expatriate workers, so that we too can participate in the tourism industry and benefit in the ways that we should,” Mr. Kirkconnell said. 

Mr. Jackson, the school’s director, outlined the syllabus which he said would prepare students for entry-level positions in the industry or for further study. The first two semesters will involve three days of study and two days of job placement, with students encouraged initially to try several different roles. 

The final semester will include three days of job placement with students encouraged to focus on their intended career path at that point. 

Mr. Jackson said he is already pleased with the level of involvement from businesses and urged more to sign up to help provide training. 

He added, “It is important that the industry partners know that these students are coming to be trained; they are not there to be additional workers.” 

Wayne-Jackson

Wayne Jackson, pictured here at the UCCI campus, is the hospitality school’s director. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT
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1 COMMENT

  1. Wow only 5 people took the time out to apply for spots at the school, that sounds like there’s a general lack of interest in this field. With only 25 spots available people should be lined up at the door.

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