Nineteen-year-old Matthew McLaughlin’s job as a deckhand disappeared when the tourism sector was hit by the COVID-19 crisis last year.
After around only four months with Cayman Snorkel Company, there was no work for him.
“I enjoyed working with the guests and seeing new happy faces every day,” says Matthew.
But with uncertainty surrounding the future of tourism, Matthew decided to pursue other career options, determined to make the best of a bad situation.
He did two things: he joined the newly formed Cayman Islands Regiment and he enrolled at the trade school Inspire Cayman Training.
Thanks to a technical and vocational education training scholarship which covered half of the tuition costs, Matthew completed the school’s
Tools for Success-Employability Skills and the Hybrid Electric Vehicle courses. He is now moving on to the three-month Intro to Automotive programme.
“What made me decided to join Inspire Cayman was the Introduction to Automotive (course),” says Matthew.
“I’ve always enjoyed fixing things since I was little. I would pull something apart just to see how it worked. This is how my passion for cars grew.
“As I got older, I would help my Dad with small projects on his vehicles. Watching him closely and everything he did, passing him the required tools and equipment, my passion grew bigger and bigger.”
Matthew, who is from East End, is philosophical about his change of direction since the coronavirus crisis.
“At first, I was kind of disappointed because I liked working on the stingray boat, but sometimes disappointment happens for a reason,” he says. “I embraced the change. I know as bad as it might sound, the pandemic actually opened a lot of opportunities for me.”
He also has words of encouragement for others forced to seek alternative employment.
“We all were affected by the pandemic, some worse than others,” he says. “This is why we Caymanians need to diversify ourselves, become a jack of all trades or a master of one.”
TIME TO RETRAIN
He urges others like himself to retrain during this period if they can.
“With the tourism industry being shut down, it put a lot of people out of jobs, me included, but I didn’t let that stop me learning. I used that time to hone my skills as an upcoming mechanic,” he says.
“Keep going no matter how hard it gets or how long it takes, the long road is sometimes the best road. Delayed gratification is always better than instant gratification. Start finding solutions to problems instead of making excuses, change your mindset and you will change
ABOUT INSPIRE CAYMAN TRAINING
Opened in August 2019, Inspire Cayman Training offers technical and vocational education training (TVET), and is approved as a licensed international training centre. So far, the school, which is run by Michael Myles, has raised approximately $100,000 in scholarships for Caymanians aspiring to careers in TVET industries. For further details visit inspirecaymantraining.com