The Public Works Department is ramping up its technical and vocational training in construction by building on an apprenticeship programme it started last year.
In his budget policy statement back in October, Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin alluded to public works’ pilot programme as a promising way forward for TVET.
Public Works officials told Cayman 27 having tangible results in hand after a successful run of its apprenticeship programme gave government the confidence to fully fund its expansion in the upcoming budget cycle.
“Rather than tell people there will be another entity saying we are going to do this, we said let’s show them that we can do it, and that’s where we are,” said Public Works Director Max Jones.
He told Cayman 27 this proactive approach to TVET training in construction was rewarded with full funding from government for the 2018, 2019 budget.
“I’m delighted to say that we are funded next year for a full time TVET instructor, we have capital funding to expand our training facilities. I can’t get it on my own training room at the moment because it is full of apprentices all the time which is a wonderful thing,” said Mr. Jones.
Public Works said five young Caymanian apprentices earned internationally recognised certification in the pilot year. Now, there are 15 in the programme, and by next year, the plan is to expand to 30.
“We are not only training these participants to work with PWD, we are also training them to work in the wider construction industry,” said Training Development Officer Levi Allen.
Mr. Allen said to achieve that goal, the programme has attracted buy-in from the private sector companies Decco, McAlpine, and Arch & Godfrey.
“The involvement of the industry starts with them sharing with us what are some of the demands they have, what are some of the areas they need qualified technicians in and have struggled to identify,” said Mr. Allen.
He said this strategy eliminates the guess-work of knowing what skills are most needed in the workforce of tomorrow.
As for the Public Works staff tasked with mentoring apprentices, they are buying into it too.
“Public Works employees have absolutely embraced this program, I think the mentors are getting so much pleasure and satisfaction out of assisting these young Caymanians to develop the skills,” said Mr. Allen.
Mr. Jones said the department’s in-house mentors recently got a skills upgrade of their own to handle the additional responsibility, with competency assessment training from city and guild.
As for the apprentices, I had to ask the question: are they getting compensated for their efforts?
Public Works told Cayman 27 remuneration for their hard work is part of the so-called ‘hidden curriculum’ – helping the apprentices make the connection between work and reward…
“It gives you something to look forward to after the hard work that you do, it keeps you like focused, and give you a sense of the real world, how it be in real life,” said apprentice Kaleb Carter.
“To be honest it’s a good thing that we are getting paid but, when I signed up for it I wasn’t really looking for a paycheck, I was signing up to learn how to do a trade, and I wasn’t really signing up for a
Both apprentices say they’ve been in the programme since September, and have been learning a lot,” said apprentice Jonasci Carter.