Opportunity beckons for chosen few

Final 25 selected for tourism school

The first intake of 25 students for Cayman’s new hospitality school were told on Wednesday that they had a duty to make the most of the opportunity and go on to build successful careers in the tourism industry. 

School director Wayne Jackson said the final 25 were selected from a pool of around 40 candidates for the flagship program designed to get more young Caymanians involved in tourism jobs. 

He said the students had a responsibility to themselves and to those who were not selected for the government-funded program to give full commitment to the one-year course which will qualify them for entry-level jobs. 

Mr. Jackson told the youngsters at a welcome reception for students and parents at the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman that they were chosen because they had the right attitude to succeed. 

He told the Cayman Compass, “One of the main things that I have highlighted to them is that this is a huge responsibility. They have to use this opportunity and not take it for granted.” 

He said the students and the course are under the spotlight because it is the inaugural year of a program that both government and the private sector hope will become a key producer of outstanding Caymanian workers for tourism. 

He said it is vital that, in its first year, the school shows it can produce industry-ready job candidates.  

The students were chosen after interviews last week. Classes start Monday at the University College of the Cayman Islands. 

Mr. Jackson said he is confident that the students will “set the standard” for years to come. 

“We have chosen persons who have the right attitude and the right mentality for this industry,” he added. 

The course will initially focus on basic work-readiness skills in six weeks of classroom sessions before on-the-job training in hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. 

Students will initially be encouraged to try as many different roles as possible before focusing on their specialty in the final term. 

Mr. Jackson added, “This will qualify them for entry-level jobs in the industry, but we don’t want them to stop there. We hope that some will go on to do their master’s and some will work their way up through the ranks. We want them to be the next managers and leaders in the industry.” 

He said candidates who missed out this year have been advised on which courses to take at the college to make them top candidates for the next intake in September 2015. 

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell hailed the opening of the school as a milestone on a journey toward transforming young Caymanians into qualified professionals with a clear path for employment and advancement. 

He added, “I commend tourism’s public and private sector for jointly creating a program that is industry driven, internationally accredited and specifically designed to provide Caymanians with the necessary qualifications to take up front-facing positions in the hospitality industry. Although employability is central to the program and we are keen to increase the number of Caymanians in the industry, the primary goal is to provide each student with a solid foundation on which they can build lucrative and rewarding careers in the tourism industry right here at home.” 

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