By Lindsey Turnbull
Students about to take some crucial steps in their career path were able to glean information on a wide array of careers last week at Clifton Hunter High School’s annual careers fair.
The fair, targeting students in year 9 to 11, attracted around 25 companies and businesses across the public and private sector, all keen to share information with students about working in their field.
Christine Campbell, careers advisor at Clifton Hunter High School said the annual career fair targeted students either selecting subject options, those who were looking at career pathways and the next steps for their education pursuits and also those wrapping up preparing for their external exams and also preparing for work experience.
“We have about 25 companies participating, so that’s a very good turnout and they are representative of different sectors and occupations, inclusive of vocational options,” she advised. “Our students have been briefed and are engaging positively with the company representatives, they are posing questions about the different career options available to them, as well as summer internships and work experience placements that may be available. Also, students want to find out about scholarships opportunities that these companies are offering to them which are specifically useful to our year 11s who are looking at tertiary studies when they move on to year 12 and onwards.”
Ms Campbell said the school had created a database of the types of companies with whom their students wished to work and also ensured that students were exposed to a broader cross section of career pathways that they might not have thought about before.
“We have companies that are always of interest to our students, for example in the healthcare sector – students are always keen to learn about that. We also have companies in the allied healthcare sector, in which students might not know much. We want students to be exposed to these different kinds of careers options that they would not ordinarily seek out or have any kind of understanding about. Those kinds of allied sectors include professions in occupational therapy and physiotherapy.”
Most students did not know that these kinds of careers were available to them and that they were a good alternative to traditional jobs within the medical profession, such as medicine which, she said, might take a long while to achieve and might not be ideal professions within the healthcare sector.
“We have a number of other sectors, for example law, which is always highly subscribed, but we also have accounting - we definitely wanted that career represented. We also have hospitality and tourism and we have a few hotels on board this year as well,” she advised.
Red Sail Sports were also represented, a popular choice for many students, she said.
“We have a broad spread and we definitely want students to not only have information about careers that they are interested in, but we want to stretch them a little bit and expose them to career options they might not have considered that might suit their interests or might just be a bright idea for something they could pursue later on,” she advised.
Companies need to do more
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller was at the event and said he liked to support the careers fair.
“One of the things that students need is careers guidance,” he said, “so I support this event every year. I’m really pleased to see the number of companies that are here, but what we have to do is now transfer this into actual recruitment, not only recruitment from high school but recruitment following them through college, getting them into summer jobs and getting them into their organisations when they come back.”
Mr Miller said that returning graduates complained to him that, while their fellow graduates elsewhere in the world were being head-hunted locally, Caymanian students could not get a foot in the door when they come back with their qualifications.
“When they come back to Cayman with their qualifications and present their CVs to these organisations they are given absolutely no encouragement,” he said.
Connections between students and companies should be continuous from school and equally so companies should come to the graduation ceremonies where they should be able to identify the high flyers, Mr Miller said.
“But it’s too easy to get a work permit and when these young graduates go to these organisations and say, do you have any vacancies, they tell them the truth: they don’t have any vacancies but they have 150 work permits. My position is, that’s 150 vacancies for qualified Caymanians,” Mr Miller said.
New hope for young people
Michael Myles, owner and operator of Inspire Cayman Training Centre, had a booth at the careers fair. He said his business had been in the works for the last two years. They opened their doors in June last year, and had their first cohort start in August. They have a fully-fledged PADI certification programme and were internationally accredited and locally accredited by the Cayman government. They offered at least 15 different programmes, accredited and all internationally approved, he said.
“What we are doing is looking at getting our young people into career paths,” Mr Myles said. “We have to stop talking about jobs today because they no longer exist. Cayman is now more competitive: we have 30,000 work permits and counting, 15,000 of those are just in the trade and vocational sectors. We don’t develop our people for that. so, we are looking at jobs within the tourism industry, the construction industry, the dive industry and the automotive industry. All of these are dominated by ex-pats.”
Mr Myles said they could train young people in all of those industries and he could start them from 13 years old.
“What we are not doing is giving young people real credentials, so by the time they are leaving high school they have a high school leaving certificate, but what is that going to get them when they are competing against someone who is a qualified electrician?” he stated.
All his students started off on an introductory course called core curriculum. Once they had completed that, they could then focus on a specified career path, such as carpentry or plumbing, for example. Core curriculum, he said, was the jump start. Similarly, students were exposed to all segments of the dive sector, not just becoming a dive master but helping them to explore jobs such as work as a rescue diver with the emergency services. Mr Myles said he wanted to equip Cayman’s young people with the business acumen to help them run their own business.
“What I’m trying to do is help these youngsters own a piece of the rock,” he confirmed.
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