The Minister for Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, Hon. Joey Hew recently visited the construction site at Public Works which will soon become the Department’s Apprentice Training Facility.
The site visit also coincided with an update on the project, which was hosted by (Acting) Public Works Director Niasha Brady. During the visit, the Minister and Deputy Chief Officer Leyda Nicholson-Makasare were given a progress report on the current status of the construction works. They also took the opportunity to meet the latest cohort on the PWD Construction Apprenticeship Programme.
Minister Hew spoke directly to the apprentices, emphasising how pleased he was to see so many females among the group, which included aspiring architects and engineers.
He also stated: “this visit has been truly enjoyable because I get to meet the young people who will soon take their rightful place in the future of this important industry. Since 2012, the construction sector has seen sustained growth across the Cayman Islands; it plays a vital role, alongside our tourism and financial services industries, in safeguarding our economic growth.”
Minister was then invited to see first-hand the progress being made on the construction of the new Apprentice Training Facility. The building, once complete, will cover 3,200 square feet; it will be raised above the car park on columns, which will create a covered, open-air space below. The upper level will consist of an open-plan space with a folding, full-height partition, which allows for two separate teaching spaces of 550 square feet each. The facility will be accessible to all persons thanks to the construction of an elevator to reach the upper floor, as well as accessible restroom provisions.
In addition, in support of the Ministry’s National Energy Policy, the new building will boast various energy saving features, including: energy efficient impact rated windows, 100% LED lighting, solar water heating along with other provisions to accept a solar energy collector application in the future.
Minister Hew praised the project’s private sector partner, Cayman Structural Group, for their support with the construction, particularly with regards to the hands-on training they are providing to the current apprentices.
The PWD Construction Apprenticeship Programme runs in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre who provides a large portion of the trainees enrolled (others are recruited from the general public) and is supported by private sector partners. The scheme has been labelled “world class” by a global technical, vocational, education and training (TVET) expert.
The programme was launched in 2016. It developed out of a need flagged by PWD to fill key technical roles locally because of a lack of required practical skills and technical knowhow to carry out work in the construction industry at the requisite standard. Realising the taking on of individual apprentices was too small an approach to meet industry demands, the Department partnered with CIFEC, before eventually opening up to students not enrolled in any institution.
The Apprentice Training Facility is scheduled to open at the PWD compound early in 2020.