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UCCI helping youngsters broaden their skills for the workplace

Cayman Conversation 27 Apr, 2023 Follow News

UCCI helping youngsters broaden their skills for the workplace

By Cayman Conversation

Tamsin Deasey, UCCI’s Director of Admissions and Registration, Paul Puckerin, UCCI’s Dean for Professional and Technical Education Training, and Dr Henry Young from the New England Institute of Technology in Rhode Island spoke with Cayman Conversations’ Ralph Lewis about the vast array of programmes the UCCI has to offer young people looking in particular to work in the construction trades and other hands-on industries.

Through their TVET (technical, vocational education and training) programmes, Cayman’s UCCI is able to train young people and those wishing to change careers to enable them to pursue lucrative careers. Partnering with accredited institutes such as the New England Institute of Technology, the UCCI helps people fully train for some incredibly rewarding careers.

To help get the message out, the UCCI is holding a careers day and symposium on 25th May. As part of that event, Paul advised they want to hear from young minds across the Cayman Islands on the subject, so they have launched an essay and poster competition. There are three categories for the essay competition: for students in secondary schools aged 12 to 15; for students aged 15 to18 years and also primary school students. The competitions will be held over the coming month and announcements of the winners will be made at the symposium.

“We believe TVET and workforce development is the way to go...especially when we look at the number of work permits in the construction trades, we are really poised to find new and creative ways, and through these essays that the students will write, they create for us good ideas that we can introduce to help revitalise and reenergise TVET across the islands,” he advised.

Dr Young explained his institute focused on technology, engineering, health sciences and professional building trades. It’s a private, non-profited college that is regionally credited with a very hands-on learning environment. Their programmes align very well with UCCI, he advised

“In the US and the Cayman Islands, we are both facing a challenge of a skills gap in some critical areas...the philosophy has been: you go to college to study medicine or some profession. People don’t think you can go to college to study professional building trades, construction, management. That’s the reality,” he said.

Dr Young said the competition for youngsters would be a great way to introduce to the younger generation these excellent professions that could be extremely lucrative.

“If the UCCI can do something to mitigate the high number of work permits needed in industries such as the construction industry and transfer those jobs back to its citizens, that’s a win win situation,” he said.

Tamsin said Paul worked closely with the industry but there just were not enough skilled people to fill the gaps.

“Paul is trying to get the young people on board now as the jobs are there,” she stated.

Giving some more background to the symposium, Paul said it would be featuring experts within the industries and also young people who have been positively impacted by TVET training.

A cross-section of people from the public and private sectors will be participating to give a rich conversation about TVET and how it can be made even better, he said.

Tamsin advised they offered courses for year 12 students all the way up to post-grad qualifications, including a Master’s programmes.

Giving an example of the flexibility of the learning at UCCI, she said students could train to be a nurse, fully qualified, and never have to leave Cayman, the same as for teaching.

“We do have pathways from age 16 all the way up as far as you can go,” Tamsin said.

If the UCCI does not have a pathway for an individual then they have partnerships with institutions which can allow that person to continue their studies. Students can get off to an excellent start in their education and then they can continue their studies to a higher level at places such as the New England Institute.

“We are looking to build these really important links because some students benefit from staying here and other students benefit from leaving and continuing their studies in another country… We are trying to build something for everyone, no matter who you are and what you need,” Tamsin said.

The fact the New England institute is an accredited institution is important for the Ministry of Education when they are granting scholarships for students, Paul added.

Tamsin advised a typical route for Cayman students is to complete their Associate’s degree then go and complete their studies abroad. America, Canada and the UK are the three countries that they tend to go to. Their Associate’s qualification transfers directly into those countries.

UCCI want students to start their application process now for the fall semester and students only have until 28th April to get their local scholarship application in. A new exciting programme will be construction project management. They are also taking applications for their summer semester which opens at the beginning of May.

“Over the past two or three years we’ve seen a huge spike in registrations, some of that was Covid-related, but the trend has continued,” Tamsin advised, adding she always encourages early registration so people are not disappointed if they cannot get on the course they want.

If the UCCI know they have a huge demand they can put on extra classes, so the earlier the UCCI knows the better, to create capacity.

Dr Henry said they are seeing people seeking a career change in the professions and that is a segment of the population the UCCI are focussing on. The jobs are there and the wages are great, he said.

Visit www.ucci.edu.ky for more information.

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