Vocational school nears opening date

| 24/06/2019
Cayman News Service
Michael Myles of Inspire Cayman Training by cabinets containing tools for the courses

(CNS Local Life): A vocational training school, dedicated to offering career paths to young people rather than simply jobs, is now expected to open sometime this summer, starting with courses in automotive maintenance, construction and diving, and eventually including a prison programme. Inspire Cayman Training, the brainchild of Michael Myles, a former government at-risk youth officer, is accredited by the US-based National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), which provides standardised training for the construction industry.

Already in the works is a plan to implement NCCER training in automotive maintenance and construction to inmates at HMP Northward to enable them to find employment upon their release. The idea is that training prisoners while they are still incarcerated gives them a chance to break the cycle of offending if they have the tools to earn a living once they re-enter society, Myles explained.

Six prison staff members will be trained as instructors, with that certification programme slated to begin 8 July, he told CNS, noting that training instructors on-island, which costs about $1,500 per person, is far less than sending them to the US for training.

Ahead of the opening of the centre, which is located in Crown Square on Eastern Avenue, Myles has been working to establish corporate partnerships to offer specialised instruction in various industries, as well as provide opportunities for apprenticeships and on-the-job experience. The companies can also mentor potential employees from the centre, send guest speakers to talk about available job opportunities and provide tools and resources.

“We can provide the students with the training and skills needed but they will lack experience so could be taken on as apprentices. But even if a young person only gets core training, (he or she) would be ready to go on-site. Then they would just need practical training in the field from the company,” he explained.

One such partnership is with Eco Divers, which recently signed on to train students to gain PADI certification with the eventual aim to progress up to the level of dive instructor. He envisions the training being given two to three days a week, and that within four to six months students would reach the point of being qualified to continue on to certification as instructors. The lessons would be given in the mornings and evenings, and possibly weekends, to accommodate the schedules of working people.

Myles is in the process of interviewing people who want to register for the diving course. He vets every potential student, whether for PADI, construction, plumbing, or other courses, to confirm their commitment and interest, and that they are onboard with the centre’s philosophy of creating career opportunities.

The centre will not be an employment agency, Myles noted, adding “We want to ensure the trainees can enter the market and be successful.”

In the case of the PADI training, he explained, “I’m not going to take on people who are looking for recreational diving. I want to meet everybody. I want to know if you want a career. If you don’t, this is not the place for you.”  

Myles is certified by NCCER as a “master trainer”, meaning he is qualified to teach professionals with expertise in their fields to become NCCER instructors. As such, he has been training instructors for courses in construction and automotive maintenance.

As part of a partnership with CUC, which has been running an NCCER-accredited programme for 15 years, the company will oversee and audit the school for the first year to ensure it is being run to NCCER standards. After a year Myles will be qualified to take on the oversight and NCCER will directly audit Inspire Cayman.

CUC will also ensure that the professionals chosen to be trainers possess the relevant expertise in the corresponding course to teach specific skills. In addition, the trainers must be able to teach the core curriculum, which is the foundation for every programme, and includes the basic skills needed to continue education in any craft area the student chooses as well as on-the-job safety. In turn, CUC will get access to a pool of potential employees who will have been trained in work skills needed by the company.

Myles noted that students will be eligible to apply for government scholarships to offset the course of training.  

Inspire Cayman has already hired one full-time and two part-time instructors to teach the core curriculum as well as automotive maintenance, plumbing and electrical skills. Myles has accepted ten students, with most split between taking plumbing and electrical training, though all will start by learning the core curriculum, which is a 15-week programme.

Myles said the class size should be at least eight to make it economically viable but he would accept up to 12 students in each class. In addition to the students he has signed up, Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman is planning to refer 12 to 15 people to the centre for training, he said.

Tuition starts at $3,500 for the 15-week mandatory core curriculum and Tools for Success (which teaches students skills for job hunting, such as preparing a CV, completing an application form and learning how to be interviewed), and $4,000 for courses in skills including carpentry, electrical, construction and plumbing, which will run anywhere from 13 to 25 weeks.

A 20-week introductory automotive upkeep course coupled with Tools for Success costs $5,500. In addition to students applying for government scholarships, Myles said that some companies “have expressed an interest in sponsoring a few Caymanians” to attend the centre.

New students will be required to undergo orientation, which includes reading a handbook and signing a “contract”, which sets rules for such things as conduct, attendance, dress code and safety. “This is not high school; the students are taking a professional course,” Myles said. “I am not giving people anything; they have to earn it.”

To date, in addition to Eco Divers and CUC, the centre has established partnerships with Dart, A1 Cleaning Services, Advanced Fire and Plumbing, Clan Construction, Davenport Development, NCB, East End Group and Webster’s Tours. Myles said that as the number of partners increases, so does the likelihood of more coming onboard, and he is hoping eventually to set up 20 partnerships.

Myles believes the possibilities for the centre are endless. “I like where I’m at. If I save one person, they can save another. We are selling careers, not jobs,” he said. “We need to stop teaching people to be employees and teach them to be employers.”

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Category: Education, Employment, Local News, Training

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is good to know that the centre has established partnerships! Kudos to all. This endeavor must be also supported by the CIG!
    When I was in school, boys were taught basic handyman skills during school hours.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Excellent! It’s about time. Another skill needed on these islands are welders, and as with construction, plumbing and electrical, is a skill that can be applied anywhere. Well done!

  3. Anonymous says:

    ONLY 6 comments!!!
    And Merren awaiting release at HMP Northward got nearly 60 comments.
    Caymanians, stop complaining about unemployment!

  4. Anonymous says:

    A very badly needed facility. I served an apprenticeship with the UK ministry of defence. I was often told that if you learn the skills to work with your hands you will never be unemployed! Good luck sir and the youth will be indebted to you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is so fantastic and much needed from YEARS ago.
    Good luck with everything Mr Myles!

  6. Anonymous says:

    He seems the only person who cares about Cayman youth and their future.

  7. Eliza Harford says:

    Michael Myers is an absolute star. Thank you, Mr. Myers, for all that you have done for Cayman youth, and all that you plan to do. I am full of respect and admiration.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Finally there is something like this in Cayman. Just a shame it needed someone from the private sector to finally do it.

    • Anonymous says:

      11:37 Ask the young Caymanians who graduated from the PWD apprenticeship programme about how successful they have become. They all have jobs.
      Thank you PWD and PPM for caring about our young Caymanians.

      Good luck Michael. They can never be enough of these programmes for our young people.

      • Anonymous says:

        Let’s get this straight ,ppm had nothing to do with those kids at public works ,,’those kids choose their careers and while in year 12 they are doing work experience, and if they choose to stay there and pwd have space then that’s what they do ,,,,how you didn’t mention Arch and Godfrey ? Politicking again..

  9. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Mr. Myles on this venture and I wish him and its participants long success. I’m not a diver, contractor or auto mechanic so I can’t assist technically but I will find Mr. Myles and offer financial support.