Young Caymanians find work after government course

| 23/12/2010

(CNS): The second group of students from the government’s work preparation course graduated on Monday and six of the class of 24 have reportedly secured full-time employment. Seven more Passport2success students are preparing to attend UCCI to further their education in the New Year and several more managed to secure some temporary holiday work officials said. The original programme started in April and from that intake six now attend the University College of the Cayman Islands and eight have gained full-time employment. Government will be launching its third session on 10 January with 25 students. The Labour minister told the graduates that the local businesses needed skilled Caymanians who would become irreplaceable.

Created by the Ministry of Education, Training and Employment, Passport2Success is free, open to all and requires no qualifications or work experience.

At the graduation Anglin told the students they could now rely only on themselves. “Remember and take away everything you learned in this programme, especially how to look within. Everything comes from inside. Challenges and frustrations are going to come, and how you respond determines where you are going to end up,” he said. “Take as much responsibility as you can; the person who knows the most will survive the longest. It’s not enough for a business to need Caymanians; we need skilled Caymanians who will become irreplaceable employees.”

The programme aims to give school-leavers and out-of-work young people a chance to improve their employability, boosting both personal and professional skills, providing practical training in job-specific areas, work experience, exposure to employers, career guidance and a demonstrating commitment to hard work.

Operating out of the International College of the Cayman Islands, classes convene five days per week from 9:00am-4:00pm, for four 12-week sessions per year. Each student receives a mock “passport”, earning stamps upon completion of a section of the programme. Participants earn a weekly stipend, and a bonus for each stamp earned, which is payable at the completion of the 12-weeks.

In return, instructors and counselors address such skill gaps as literacy and information technology, and teachstudents how to navigate the process of securing and retaining a job, and preparing them for the realities of the workplace.

The premier, who was also at the graduation, encouraged the students to continue acquiring skills.
“For years, I have hoped for a programme like this, overcoming barriers and working smartly and passionately. The future of these islands depends on people recognising that we cannot rely on others, but must seize advantages whenever they occur. Passport2Success means you should never lose the willingness to learn,” McKeeva Bush said.

Four of the graduates spoke at the graduation to relate their experiences before and after the course. They all offered similar testimonials, describing angry attitudes, abbreviated school careers, damaged confidence and an unwillingness to accept the demands of either education or employment.

“When I started, I had a stinking attitude,” said Overtha Bush, 18. “I spoke disrespectfully to others and to anyone that said things I didn’t want to hear.” She said she was expelled from John Gray in 2009 for fighting, and completed her schooling at the Alternative Education programme. When she gradated she thought it would be easy to find a job, but quickly found herself “with nothing to do”.

She heard about Passport2Success from a relative and applied “because I was tired of sitting around”. After her initial courses, she said, she gained work experience through a placement at Caledonian: “I was worried about what the staff would think of me, but it was a great experience and I found something I really liked: marketing.

“When I left, I was given an evaluation, and told there were a few things I needed to work on, but that’s all right and I have made a promise to myself to continue to work on improving myself,” she said. “I have changed; my mother says she has seen great changes in me. This is the best decision I have ever made.”

Nicholas Ross who graduated from John Gray in 2009 said he didn’t care about exams and never studied after being accepted at UCCI he left in December last year thinking it would be easy to get a job.
“I made out resume after resume, applied to company after company, and got no answers. I could not understand why,” he said. Applying to the Passport programme, however, he realised he had no communications skills. Now a customer service agent at Owen Roberts International Airport, Mr Ross thanked the programme instructors: “I would not have the success I have today without all of you at the programme.”

Johnathan Seymour, 17, joined the group as a diversion. “I thought it would be fun to join Passport, but it turned out to be more challenging than I had thought. It made me realise I needed to get serious and stop being a joker. I learned how to write a resume and a cover letter, I gained more patience, learned to listen to feedback and gained confidence. I would encourage other young people to attend this programme,” he said.

Young people wishing to earn a place must submit a registration form, which can be obtained from the Wellness Centre, by calling 949-9355 or by visiting


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Comments (5)

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  1. Concerned Caymanian says:

    I am pleased that the Program is working.  However, I can’t get over the fact that this 11 week Program is teaching these youngsters more than they learned in 12 years of schooling.

  2. Sandy says:


    Good Idea.Pay people to stay in school that will advance the level of academic achievement amongst Caymanians!

    This is an EXCELLENT  idea! Why didn’t the premier or Rolston Anglin the Minister for Labor and Education think of this before?This is the best solution to the jobless situation and they should jump on this one right away.At the same time these people will be able to keep food on their table and  a roof over their head as well.  Good writing  Flo keep it up.

    I call this thinking outside of the box! a lot of countries do this for its people,

    Great. Kudos!

  3. Swine says:

    Congratulations to those students who have made use of this opportunity and taken it seriously.  Your work, commitment and dedication WILL pay off.  Stay focused and press forward regardless of what difficulties may arise before you. 

  4. John Evans says:

    Congratulations to all involved, it’s good to have a positive story on employment and this is a refreshing alternative to the very negative approach (best described by one critic as ‘all stick and no carrot’) being adopted towards unemployment in the UK.

  5. Florence Goring-Nozza says:

    I commend the minister for launching this program but  with the current  job search situation for Caymanians, government must now put a Plan "B" in place to deal with unemployment and joblessness amongst its people preparing them to be more competitive in the work place  on a much larger scale. As the Premier stated that "The future of these islands depends on people recognising that we cannot rely on others, but must seize advantages whenever they occur. Passport2Success means you should never lose the willingness to learn.”

    I would suggest to the premier and the minister for education and labor that it wouldn’t be a bad idea if they would add one more feature  to the Passport2Success program that would serve our society well.

    I recommend that those individuals who cannot find employment be allowed to take advantage of this program as well. Government would create a budget to pay  a stipend to those individuals who  in addition to the Passport2Success program and   desire to stay in school or attend school, i.e. the Law School, the UWI, the UCCI, or other, then this will not only advance the academic level of our people but at the same time enable them to provide food and shelter for their families  as well as help reduce the surge in crime in our society  that is very much out of control .