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Tourism diploma free for Caymanians

Cayman Conversation 31 May, 2023 Follow News

Tourism diploma free for Caymanians

Nordia England-Prout, Marshay and Kaitlyn

Nordia England-Prout, UCCI’s Director, School of Hospitality, and students Marshay Malcolm and Kaitlynn Henry spoke with Caymanian Times publisher Ralph Lewis about the UCCI’s one year diploma in Hospitality and Tourism and how it was attracting more young Caymanians into the industry.

The Ministry of Tourism and the UCCI School of Hospitality and Tourism have created a one-year diploma programme for high school graduates interested in pursuing a career in hospitality and tourism. Caymanians can study for this diploma (which is certified by the UK’s City & Guilds as a level 2) free thanks to the Ministry of Tourism.

Marshay and Kaitlyn qualified from the programme and have now matriculated to an Associate’s Degree in Hospitality.

Nordia gave some background to the programme: “It is designed for recent high school graduates ages 16 and up and aims to prepare Caymanians with hospitality industry knowledge. It allows them to develop competencies in maths, menu planning, table setting and, most importantly, gives them industry exposure where they get on-the-job training as well as participate in internships at the end of the programme.”

Application for the next cohort is 12th June and the year-long course runs over three semesters: fall, spring and summer. Nordia said any young Caymanians looking for a career in hospitality and tourism should apply.

“We have already seen around 200 students who have gone through the programme and there is a number of them who are currently working in the industry, including on reception, in the culinary section and doing food and beverage,” she advised. “We’ve had a lot of success thus far, but we need more.” she said.

Marshay advised she had originally wanted to study business but was pleased she had chosen hospitality because it gave her the chance to travel and said hospitality was a very diverse subject.

Kaitlyn wanted to study photography however there were no photography courses at UCCI but then she discovered the hospitality course.

“I’m a people person,” she confirmed, “so I got into the programme and it became very fun and it wasn’t what I expected it to be. Through the programme I got to meet a lot if people from different cultures and I got my very first job.”

Kaitlyn said spending time at The Ritz-Carlton was particularly rewarding, as she got to meet the managers there and had “very good conversations and tours”. She said it was a very good experience and she could not wait to do more.

Nordia said although the programme was fairly easy, students had to really love hospitality to properly engage; however, they could develop a love for it after they come onto the course.

They offered support for those who may have a challenge processing the theoretical part of the information and lecturers who were very passionate and who worked closely with the students throughout the programme, she advised.

Anyone could come onto the programme and did not need a hospitality background but they had to be committed, she informed.

As far as encouraging Caymanians to study for what has been predominantly a career for ex-pats, Nordia said that she had seen a culture change.

“We have a fair way to go but we can get there,” she said

Marshay said the perception was that hospitality was not a well-paid industry but she had realised through her studies that this was not the case and there were so many other benefits to having a hospitality career, especially the opportunity to travel and meet new people.

Kaitlyn agreed and said as Cayman was mostly known as a tourist destination it would be better for tourists to better appreciate Caymanian culture.

Nordia advised that the MOT through the DOT had funded the entire programme so the cost of tuition, books, student supplies and transportation to field trips was all free to Caymanian students.

She spoke about the importance of industry partners for the young people’s success, who supported the programme with on-the-job training and internships. She highlighted the Dart Hospitality Group, and the Wharf in particular, who she said had been integral to the success of the programme.

“We also have a new player coming on board - Andrea from Steak Social - who is training students for dining room as well as the culinary arts,” she advised. “In addition, Jacques Scott gives us a lot of discounts and they are very supportive when it comes to the introduction of students to wine, Mia from Fusion has helped the students develop their bartending techniques and there is a host of others who are in the pipeline. We invite industry partners, we need the support, we need the facilities anything you can do to help us drive this engine of social change.”

The diploma is a varied course, offering students different pathways of learning, from customer service to culinary, to food and beverage, to the newly added pathway of watersports and recreation.

Those who qualify with the diploma can move on to an Associate’s degree. Students seeking this further qualification can seek help with funding through Student Life.

Nordia advised they were also planning to roll out a similar programme for the evening, the application deadline for which is also 12th June.

To apply visit www.Ucci.edu.ky

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