Cayman’s jobseekers look to training options for reopening

Tourism open day points to industry opportunities

While Cayman’s tourism industry remains on pause, many of islands’ jobless are evaluating the training and skills that will be necessary to get back to work.

Dozens of jobseekers turned out for the careers open day, held 8-9 Sept. at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, to explore employment and learning opportunities through the National Tourism Training Programme.

Industry representatives assisted attendees in one-on-one sessions and public servants offered support registering on government’s employment portal, JobsCayman.

The services reflected the two-tiered needs of Cayman’s jobless: to prepare for a future, reopened tourism industry while continuing to meet immediate economic needs.

For jobseekers like Meylys Swaby Ramirez, the first priority is providing for her family and then she will think about what comes next.

“I’m not dispassionate about any industry,” she told the Cayman Compass.

“I just want to provide for my family. I’ll just take anything at this point and then I can make up my mind, what is it I want to do later on.”

Swaby Ramirez is one of many workers eager to repurpose her skills and get back to work. Before the crisis, she made a career out of customer service and finance.

“Those are the industries that you were encouraged to do as a whole, as a country,” she said.

The current job market has not made it easy for her or others to get back to work, however. In the interim, she has relied on savings, pension funds and the support of the community.

To survive this period of uncertainty, social worker Calvin Duncan has encouraged his clients to remain patient and stay positive.

Duncan attended the open house as part of his work with the Department of Children and Family Services. He took the time to speak individually with tourism and hospitality representatives to identify opportunities to bring back to the families he serves.

“I’m tasked with helping different families who haven’t been employed, gain employment and keep it,” he said.

“I’m trying to help them gain additional skills so that way when they do become employed, that they keep that employment, whether that is partnering with WORC (Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman) and participating in the different programmes that they have, or even just coming in to meet with me and doing a mock interview so that way they can perfect interviewing skills.”

He recognises that this period has brought additional stressors and uncertainty to the islands’ unemployed. So, Duncan is helping them focus on long-term goals and building a strong base for the future.

“I’ve been talking to them about being patient and continuing their efforts and just doing all the preparations now, so that when things do open up, it’ll be easy and then they’ll have multiple options. And then you just take your pick,” he said.

For those who register with government’s WORC department, several programmes are available to support workers looking to re-enter their chosen field or to explore new ones.

Dianne Conolly, manager of WORC’s national training and development division, said event turnout had been high, with jobseekers interested in both training opportunities and registering with JobsCayman.

“One of the wonderful things about registering with WORC and getting the training is that we provide a range of services, and that means also doing an assessment to address any barriers that people might be going through. It might range from childcare to NAU (Needs Assessment Unit) support, to counselling to get through this time,” she said.

One way in which government is encouraging jobs training is through a partnership with the University College of the Cayman Islands.

Wayne Jackson, director of UCCI’s hospitality school, explained that sponsorship from the Department of Tourism has allowed the college to expand its professional course offerings, including a tourism certificate course catering to young Caymanians.

Several UCCI training classes, including a customer service course, begin on Monday, 14 Sept. Courses range from vocational skills like plumbing and electrical work to hospitality skills like bartending and cake decorating.

“We’re seeing persons who are looking to really reengage the workforce or to get better skilled in a particular area,” Jackson said.

For Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell, the steps taken to prepare now will play an important part in the islands’ recovery.

“Our opportunity is to rebuild our stayover [tourism] as quickly as possible and to continue to monitor cruise to see what opportunities arise for us as an industry through that,” he told attendees during Tuesday’s opening remarks.

“But now, very straight talk, we are focussed on rebuilding our stayover to bring back tourism jobs and tourism jobs for Caymanians who are not in stayover.”

In 2019, he pointed out, Cayman had achieved record tourism numbers, with around 2.5 million visitors coming to the Cayman Islands. That number breaks down to approximately 500,000 stayover tourists and 2 million cruise tourists.

| For more information on government job programmes, visit www.worc.ky.

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