Efforts to open a small trade school are quietly under way in Grand Harbour.
Youth worker Michael Myles is setting up a training facility for mechanics in a new partnership between Hope Academy and several private sector partners in the auto industry.
Mr. Myles said the program – similar to a now defunct training scheme run through the Superior Auto garage – would use classroom space at the school and a workshop being developed in a converted shipping container.
He said the program would be accredited through the Jamaican German Automotive School, the training program for mechanics in Jamaica.
Private sector sponsors have donated around $10,000 in tools, engines and other equipment, as well as a disused shipping container, which the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman is outfitting.
Mr. Myles said he expects the work and the accreditation process to take until March to complete.
He said the program would be a night school and would qualify students to work as entry-level mechanics on island.
“It will be similar to the program that ran at Superior Auto,” he said. “They weren’t able to do it any longer so there is currently no mechanics program on island.”
Mr. Myles, formerly government’s at-risk youth officer, now operations and development manager at Hope Academy, said Owen Knight, the instructor for the mechanics program, was now working at Hope.
He said, “No one uses Hope Academy after 3:30 p.m. and we decided the facility needs to be used. We already have an accredited instructor.”
He said students would have to pay to take part in the program, but would likely be eligible for government scholarships.
“It is not a free program, we need to pay for the teacher, to put the lights on at night,” he said. “There is more to it than just playing with engines. You need math, English, science, you need to understand IT.”
He said there was scope to expand into other areas, like cosmetology, barbering and electronics, if the mechanics program is a success.
“The average mechanic is not Caymanian, the average barber is not Caymanian, most waiters and bar staff are not Caymanian. These are career paths we have to open up for our people.
“I’m not sitting around waiting for government to do anything. If they want, they can partner with us, but if not, students will have to apply for scholarships.”