By Christopher Tobutt
The Marriott, Department of Tourism (DOT) and Work Opportunities and Residency Cayman (WORC) all got together on Tuesday and Wednesday to reach out to many of the tourism-sector workers who have been displaced because of COVID as well as those who might want to look for jobs in the industry for the first time. It was a chance to network with one of the tourism companies, ranging from hotels to dive businesses to industries, who were offering people the chance to learn new skills, retool and readjust to a Post-Covid tourism world. They had the chance to sign up with WORC, so that they could be put on the department’s database, and also to learn new skills in one of several new courses they are putting on. The UCCI was there, too, with some short courses specifically geared to help Caymanians get into the tourism-sector.
The devastation to Cayman’s tourism caused by COVID 19, when thousands of workers lost their jobs, holds the possibility for hope, too. 4,500 overseas workers have also left the islands. That means that when things begin to pick up again, hopefully at the end of this year, there may be vacancies which Caymanians can fill.
Marriott’s Director of Human Resource, Valerie Hoppe said, “We know that there are a lot of people out there right now that aren’t working, and we want to help those people gain those skills through training, or network and connect with somebody so that when those borders open and more jobs are available they’ve met that person and they have that connection to hopefully get a foot in the door.”
The Marriott is offering a ten-week training course to learn front-office skills, and Ms Hoppe said that the hotel is prioritizing out-of-work Caymanians and looking both for people who have experience and for those who may have the necessary skillset and attitude to succeed. “But we have had a lot of people come in that are recent high-school graduates or recent college graduates, and they want a job but they don’t have experience. But we would be happy to train, or even take somebody on board that was a young go-getter,” she said.
Gail Henry, DOT’s Deputy Director of product development, said, “The DOT has partnered with our private sector partners, and the objective of the open house is to allow persons to register with WORC so if they are unemployed they can also network with various businesses represented here. It is also an opportunity for persons to find out about training courses that are available, and two of which the DOT partnered with the UCCI for our Customer Service in a Covid Landscape Course.” There are other courses too, all aimed at getting Caymanians working in the sector again, and they are being paid for by the DOT, Ms. Henry said.
Joanna virtue-Markman the director of People and Culture at Kimpton Seafire Hotel said, “Today we have the opportunity to create a database of all the displaced hospitality workers, and and create a talent-pool, which has been lacking with the hospitality industry. What we are really trying to do is to match the skill-set and experience of the individual with the needs of the hotel ….so part of the feedback form we are giving out is to ask them what they are interested in.
A Caymanian Mother and daughter, Francis and Alicia Scott were both looking for jobs or training opportunities “I am looking for a housekeeping job in one of the hotels,” Alicia said, “I’ve seen different people like WORC, hotels, restaurants. This event is Its good because people are looking for a job, and they are teaching new skills.”