By Lindsey Turnbull
Even though a vital school fair for Cayman Brac students was postponed last week, students are still getting important work experience on the Sister Island thanks to Layman Scott High School’s (LSHS) vocational work experience programme, called Work Link.
Jenine Stewart, Career Services Manager with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) and Denver Bloomfield, Career Advisor, were on the Brac last week Thursday in anticipation of the careers fair, due to be held on Friday but unfortunately postponed. They worked alongside Yvette Gayle, Coordinator – Career Activities at LSHS, who was the organiser of the Career Fair.
“It was unfortunate that we have had to postpone the careers fair, as we had more than 30 businesses planning to come to the event. We had a cross-section of businesses lined up, within IT, banking, tourism hospitality, agriculture, healthcare, the fire department, the RCIPS, legal and accounting,” Ms Gayle advised. “Those people who were coming over from Grand Cayman still have tickets and we very much hope the event will take place before the end of the school year.”
While the careers fair itself was cancelled, the 19 students in year 11 or 12 at the LSHS are very well covered when it comes to future career direction. There are currently 13 students studying for their dual entry exams to take them on to higher education and six in vocational programmes providing them with careers opportunities.
“All students in Years 11 and 12 undertake work experience through the Work Link work experience programme. Traditionally, students worked for two hours per week, at different placements over two years,” Ms Stewart advised.
Based on feedback from many employers and students, they had changed the format to improve the quality of the programme, she explained. As a result, Year 11 students participate in two such placements in January and June and vocational students participate in an on-going work experience placement for two days each week in Year 12. The students benefit from a greater understanding of the range of activities that each job entails.
The six Year 12 students on work placement are currently placed with Cayman Brac’s Customs and Border Patrol, The Cayman Islands Fire Service (two students), Air Traffic Control, Cayman Brac Day Care Centre and Troy’s Garage.
Troy Grant from Troy’s Garage has been involved with the school for many years. He said that he generally had quite a few students join him for the programme, with the main aim of “souping up” their own cars.
“Once they see that this type of job is not a clean office-type job they realise the field is not for them,” Troy acknowledged. “Even so, we have had a small number of students who have come and worked with us during the summer.”
With the aim of enticing students into the world of early learning, Ms Neila Jones from Cayman Brac Day said that she has had considerable success.
“Over the years we have had several students come through the Work Link programme and from there, some have moved on to internships and then on to becoming staff members,” Ms Jones advised.
Ms Jones said she had thought it a great idea for students from the school to gain some hands-on work experience in her field, allowing them to really immerse themselves in the area of early childhood learning.
“There is a humungous internal benefit when you see what a difference you are making,” she confirmed. “Early childhood development is the foundation from which everything else is based. This is true nation building.”
Ms Stewart said the students were all excited about their ‘jobs’ and valued the experience that they were gaining.
“Mr Bloomfield and I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with the six students of LSHS who are currently on work experience. The students were satisfied with their placements, the only little concern being, that there are certain areas that some of them cannot be exposed to at this time. Justin has plans to become a pilot and has already formulated a plan as to how to achieve his goals, liaising with former LSHS past student Rodney Dixon, who is now an Air Traffic Controller and with a retired pilot,” she advised. “The students were positive, happy and explained that the experience has been meaningful. Mrs Jones stated that Daniela already operates more like a member of staff, than an intern.”
Ms Stewart sad that employers stated that the students were receptive and cooperative and applied themselves. The supervisors at Customs and Border Control explained their limitations, in that, they were not always able to expose the intern to all areas of the job, due to the nature of their job and the confidentiality that must be maintained. They, however, try to expose him to as many areas as possible, rotating him to the different departments under their control.
“The employers gave very positive feedback. They indicated that students acted in a professional manner, willingly performed tasks, were respectful and eager to learn,” she stated.
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