First hospitality graduates hired locally

Eight of the first graduates of the School of Hospitality Studies have already been hired for full-time jobs in the industry in Cayman. 

The hospitality studies program at the University College of the Cayman Islands last month graduated 18 of the 25 students who entered the program in September 2014.  

Wayne Jackson, director of the School of Hospitality Studies, said employment for the students is the ultimate goal and that keeping the local market in mind was crucial while creating this program. 

“We are aligning ourselves with what the employers need because if the employers don’t think they can hire this person, it means that we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing,” he said. 

The eight graduates have accepted jobs at Abacus, Grand Old House, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Red Sail Sports and Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman. 

Two graduates were already employed at Grand Cayman Beach Suites and Ortanique before enrolling in the program. 

Donnette Goddard, head of placements at the school, said another graduate is on an extended internship, while two others are pursuing further education overseas and locally. 

Another five graduates are actively seeking employment. Mr. Jackson and Ms. Goddard said they welcome any companies that are interested in establishing a relationship with them and becoming potential employers of graduates. 

“They are ready for interviews and ready to work hard,” Ms. Goddard said. “We are looking for opportunities for them.” 

Luciano De Riso of Grand Old House, which has hired two graduates, Brianna Watler and Laurent Bodden, said the restaurant initially had taken on four interns from the program.  

He said that when he started working at Grand Old House three years ago, “We had no Caymanian employees except permanent residents. I looked around and saw that we needed them in the front of house and more local recipes in the kitchen. Hopefully, [chef] Brianna can really bring that to us now.” 

He said he did not understand why more local people did not work in the hospitality industry. “Besides the fact that it’s a good place to work, you can meet people from all over the world,” he said. 

Graduate Addie Christian, who now works at Abacus as a server, said she chose to explore the hospitality industry because “I just really like the feeling of knowing something I did can put a smile on someone’s face.” 

Abacus owner Markus Mueri, a member of the founding board of the School of Hospitality Studies, said he had made it a “top priority” to introduce young Caymanians to the industry by teaching them the ins-and-outs of the business and providing them with firsthand experience as interns in his restaurants. 

In this first year of the program, more than 45 people from various organizations partnered or became involved with the program, Mr. Jackson said. 

“We were quite selective in terms of who we brought on board,” he said. “We wanted to ensure that wherever [the graduates] were placed, the organizations had the skill set required to develop competency and the time and commitment necessary to devote to the program.” 

The application deadline for next year’s program has been extended to Monday, Aug. 24. For more information, contact Mr. Jackson at [email protected] 

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, fifth from left, with the first graduating class of the School of Hospitality Studies, at their graduation awards ceremony in July.

Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, fifth from left, with the first graduating class of the School of Hospitality Studies, at their graduation awards ceremony in July.