A celebration of achievements, and of the potential of eight young people, took place last week at graduation of the National Workplace Development Agency’s latest Passport2Success cohort.
Held on Sept. 1, this was the 23rd successful graduation for this public-private initiative which aims to maximise the education, training and employment potential of local youths.
Addressing the gathering, Premier Alden McLaughlin told the students: “You have each demonstrated a willingness to succeed,” he said.
For the first time, the programme focused on students of the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre. Minister McLaughlin, who holds responsibility for human resources, stated that the success of the CIFEC programme has surpassed all expectations.
After graduating from Year 12, these participants engaged in a range of activities over the course of 12 weeks. In addition to the classroom sessions and work experience, the students volunteered time with the Cayman Aids Foundation and Meals on Wheels – and were rewarded with a fun-day social.
Each participant was attached to a local business, in their areas of interest. “I didn’t fool around at all!” said Abiann Gayle, who was awarded for her outstanding performance. “The NWDA and Passport2Success staff helped me to calm down and focus on my work; and also on the tests.”
The other students are Lauroya Ebanks, Marygrace Hibbert, Tresaun Jacques, Amber McLean, Shanique Morrison, Brina Dilbert and Tyrek Minzett. Students Brina and Tyrek were given special awards for their efforts and accomplishments.
As an early indicator of their success, half of the group are now continuing their education, and the other four are already employed.
The P2S work-preparedness programme was initiated in 2010 to bridge the gap between leaving high school, and entering the workforce. Mr. McLaughlin also thanked the two original private sector partners, Bank of Butterfield and Webster’s Tours, for their commitment to this initiative.
In her remarks, NWDA Training Manager Dianne Conolly said: “It’s about providing guidance, exploring various career pathways, making relevant connections, developing work skills and the desire for lifelong learning – including the option to access higher education and other training opportunities.”
The teens also have continued access to the NWDA’s services.
Other officials participating in the event included Chief Officer Wesley Howell, Councillor Austin Harris, and MLA David Wight.
For last week’s P2S graduates Amber McLean the event was life-changing in more than one way: She became a parent weeks ago to a healthy daughter.
Encouraging Tyrek Minzett to share the experience with his peers, Premier McLaughlin said: “We have to find a better way to engage the young men of our country. You have a very big responsibility to convince your friends that this is a productive programme.”
For his part, Tyrek told the audience: “I was a rough and tough person, of few words…At the start I felt like a weight was on my back, but when I decided to start coming on time,
asking questions in class and getting my work done, things started to go good for me.”
He said a highlight of the work experience was learning how to interact with customers and “meeting lots of successful people”.
Amber, who was attached to the Courts Office during the internship phase, also said she has high expectations for herself. In between jugging her new responsibilities, she is sharing the positive message of P2S with her friends.
Passport2Success is a government-funded programme designed to provide support and basic workforce skills for young Caymanians.