Mechanics school offers hope for young car enthusiasts

| 30/06/2011

(CNS): With constant complaints in the community about the need for vocational training for young people on local business is doing what it can to help train the country’s next generation of mechanics. Superior Auto owners, Mark and Denise DeMercado open a school for mechanics in September and was recently acknowledged by the government’s National Youth Commission (NYC) “Somebody needed to reach out and help our young people, especially those unable to attend schools overseas,” the DeMercados said about their school.

Their formula for a small automotive trade school was simple: provide free training – accredited by the Jamaican German Automotive School (JAGAS) – to interested youth.

Volunteers, staff members and the DeMercados, conduct classes from 8 til 3 each weekday, and there is a balance between classroom and hands-on learning. Six young men enrolled last year but the number dwindled to three dedicated students, Christopher Jackson, Leandru Ebanks and Giovanni Ordonez. They were joined this month by Jessica Dixon and she will continue in September.

“You have to learn in order to earn,” master mechanic Mark DeMercado tells his recruits. “And you can do that by working hard and proving yourselves.”

Explaining why he and his wife had started the project, DeMercado said he had benefitted from a similar initiative in Jamaica. He too received his certification from JAGAS, a school that has produced hundreds of professional mechanics. And as in Jamaica, the Cayman syllabus includes mandatory core subjects – maths, English, technical drawing, science and physics. All must be passed before students can be certified.

Superior Auto aims to develop a pool of qualified local mechanics, but that with this in mind, the initial group of students still has a way to go before they can be assessed as being technically competent.

They must first pass 30 JAGAS classes with minimum scores of 70 percent, in order to become level-one mechanic helpers. After that, they must serve as apprentices for three full years while gaining level three certification, with which they can work in a leadership capacity.

But the Cayman programme does have an accelerated component, for it covers levels one and two simultaneously, as explained by volunteer, coordinator Levi Allen — Superior Auto’s quality assurance staffer. 

“Those with sufficient aptitude can come out with a level-two qualification by next year,” he said. “And others will have at least acquired basic competency.”
And while the ultimate goal is long-term success, some more immediate rewards may also occur. For example, the DeMercados will keep one of the first trainees on-staff after the level-one training is completed this summer – and on a small stipend.
In the coming school year the Superior Auto programme will accommodate ten local students, but twice that number have applied to attend.

During their initial year, the DeMercados did receive some help for the youths to sit JAGAS examinations in Jamaica. Rotary Sunrise sponsored the June trip to Jamaica.  In addition, PricewaterhouseCoopers has already contributed towards the summer exams, but more help is needed for this not-for-profit training programme.

“And for those who might doubt the students’ dedication,” DeMercado noted, “They’re always here on time. The parents are equally committed, and turn up for “PTA” meetings even on Saturday mornings.

The training facility was reviewed by National Youth Commission (NYC) members during a visit last week. As an independent commission, the NYC monitors and advises on the status of young people, and advocates for developing positive solutions to their needs.

“I look forward to the day when I can have my car serviced by one of these ambitious young mechanics,” said NYC Chairperson Jenny Manderson. “I commend the DeMercado’s initiative, and laud the sponsors and volunteers who make this training possible. The participants and their parents should certainly feel proud to be involved.
“I urge more enterprises to step forward to craft public and private sector partnerships in areas that can provide training opportunities and recognized tech-voc qualifications,”  she added.

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  1. abbie says:

    Wow! what a wonderful write-up! Well deserving. We need some plumbing, carpentry, hair-dressing, nail technicians, bar tendering, cooks, masons, tilers,  all these other trades need to be addressed.  Private companies should try and assist any government whether it be UPD or PPM to help these young people. 

    There is another local company teaching electrical skills to our Caymanian youngsters, and I applaud them for doing so and we need more people like these guys to help our youngsters.  Do not forget that old adage 'it takes a village to raise a child'.

    I also learned that these students over at Superior Auto is also doing welding as a part of their course.  Very outstanding Superior Auto for taking the initiative to teach these young people and for doing  it for free.   

  2. Michael Hillsbroken says:

    I've been taking my vehicles to you guys for over the past 6 years. You have always provided me with superior service and now your providing the Caymanian youths with opportunities they might not otherwise have.  Keep up the great work.



  3. Proud Caymanian says:

    Absolutely amazing, this was needed in Cayman for years, we really got to give hats off to the Demercados for such dedication  into our youths. I am glad that they see potential in our Caymanian youths. This is the opportunity many guys around the island have been waiting for. Congratulations Superior Auto for such a spectacular offer to keep these guys focus in something they enjoy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Good job Superior Auto.  I was more than touched to have read this article. Moreso, because I have had the opportunity to visit Superior Auto Training Center, and must admit I was very impressed with their program. 

    From my observations, these young people whom are trained by Superior Auto were very converged during my visit; as one of the pupil, were at the 'White Board' explaining to the class about a topic.  This type of training really overwhelmed me as I have not seen that involvement in a class, since I lefthigh school over 30 yrs ago.  The Demercado's should be much-admired for this special and unique interest that they have taken in our young people, and which is a not-for profit set-up, teaching a trade to our people. I was even more  impressed when I also discovered that not only were the pupils trained in a classroom, but that these pupils were also trained in the practical side of mechancis daily,  getting hands-on training.

    Just last week while getting my car serviced over at Superior Auto,  I learned that one of our own, Mr. Ned Solomon will be joining them over at Superior Auto to assist in teaching one of the core subjects. This is another positive move by one of our Caymanian, contributing his time to such a noble cause.

    NYC, a fabulous article for bringing this trade school to the public. Volunteers, sponsors, keep assisting the Demercados to help develop our young people.  A Job Well Done!


  5. Anonymous says:

    This is a good turn around for Cayman. We needed this opportunity along time ago. I have seen so many talented young people from Cayman, now they can provide a new level of service to the community. Thank God for this School.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What an amazing read!

    It is such a wonderful opportunity for our youths with high interest in these areas.
    Most admiarble of the Demercdos whom have six kids of their own to open a trade school which is also completely free to the young upcoming Mechanics and engineers of our community.

    I find it very impresssive the areas of study is not only foucused to Auto Mechanics but also CORE subject in any career in life.

    It is cliche when graduates believe being a banker or a lawyer are their only choices, very few have the funds or the inclination to adapt overseas. Many also wish to be a beautician, makeup artist, designer, draftsman, or mechanical engineer. Superior Auto has opened the way for one of these avenues.

    I would love to see the future growth of this Trade School and many other trades schools to come.

    Keep our kids driven!

  7. Michael Donovan St Aubyn Graham Brown says:

    I have been observing with great interest and enthusiasm the relentless decication that has been placed in terms of priority on educating the interested young minds in this global world of auto mechanic, here in Grand Cayman.  I have visited Superior Auto to obtain an insight of the classroom which has been  designed to hilight the intricate thoughts in the drive to uplift the students who partake in this field. With limited resourses in my view, a lot has been done. The DeMarcados have displayed a real passion for excellence and without thought of personal gain , says to me that these people need to be recognized by the wider society. This act of kindness displays no focus on background culture, but a genuine passion to see the youngsters being involved in something positive for their future. The further energies that have been channelled into this project, has seen the students that eventually will excel obtaining certification from a recognized institution that will see them on their journey to being professionals in the end. What more can be asked of these people more than never relent?  

  8. ortega says:

    Congrats to the Superior Auto Team.


  9. florencejenkins says:

    Allstate puts a small device in the cars of drivers who sign up for the program that monitors how much they drive and how fast they drive, among other factors. Insurance rates can go down 30% as a result. Check "Auto Insurance Clearance" for more info