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Annual John Gray High School Careers Fair Attracts Dozens of Businesses

Representatives from the Marriott Talk To Students About The Hospitality IndustryGrand Cayman, Cayman Islands – Year 9 and 11 students at John Gray High School (JGHS) had the opportunity to learn about a wide range of professions in Cayman’s business community at the school’s annual Careers Fair, organised by the Career Services Unit in the Department of Education Services and the JGHS Life Skills Department.

About 450 students interacted with representatives from 30 organisations in both the private and public sector, including the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Westin Casuarina Resort, Kimpton Hotel, Dart, the Cayman Islands Contractors Association, CUC, the Cayman Islands Fire Services, Red Sail Sports and Ernst & Young. Year 11 students were encouraged by their teachers to present themselves prepared to network and discuss possibilities of internship opportunities during the summer holidays while Year 9 students were focussed on gaining information and advice on the subjects required for particular career paths, as they finalise their options for “O” Level examinations.

The Dart Minds Inspired Booth Was a Popular One“Career Fairs such as this one are really invaluable to our students on so many levels,” said Honourable Tara Rivers, Minister of Education who was on hand to visit the booths along with Chief Officer Christen Suckoo. “First of all, it gives them exposure to the breadth of jobs and industries represented here in our economy which many of them may not even be aware of; it’s raising that level of awareness which is critical. It is also about the ability to interact directly with people outside of their peer group; for some it might be the first time they have spoken to a potential employer, so it’s about gaining that confidence and experience. This opportunity to meet people from the various companies and industries will assist them in determining where their interests lie, and what career path they may want to pursue after leaving high school.”

Minister Rivers said the event can also be very beneficial for the companies who participate.

“Employers are always looking for good, hard working employees and a careers fair such as this one gives them a preview of the type of employees coming into the workforce soon, and helps them know what to expect. There may not necessarily be an opening in their organisation right now, but this time of networking with the students may lead to future summer jobs or internships or even mentorship possibilities.”

For Jennie Pacheco, Project Engineer at McAlpine Ltd., the goal each year is to dispel the misconceptions that students have about the construction industry.

“Most of the kids tend to think of the construction industry as bricks and mortar and hard labour which it is of course but we try to give them the other side of it as well such as project management, engineering, the more academic aspect of the field,” said Pacheco. “We hope that they will leave here today understanding that they can start with us as a carpenter and work their way up to a project manager position with education and experience.”

Pacheco says McAlpine has had a number of students come through the company on work experience or internships as a result of having engaged with them at the John Gray and Clifton Hunter High Schools’ Careers Fairs, and have then gone on to higher education.

Members of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman team were also on hand to talk to students about careers in the hospitality industry. The hotel has been exhibiting at the Fair for about five or six years.

“Our goal is to educate the students about what the hospitality industry is because we find that a lot of them don’t really understand and they think that it’s just being a housekeeper or a front desk agent,” said Tonya Adam, Human Resources Recruitment Coordinator. “We want to give them information that will help them decide what they want to do as a career. One of the biggest benefits of working in hospitality is the customer service skills that one develops which can be used in any career so for us it’s important that students don’t look down on the hospitality industry but understand that tourism is a huge part of their culture.”

“The purpose of what we’re doing here today is to educate the students about what careers are available in Cayman because many of them don’t know what they want to do once they leave school or they have misperceptions about what jobs are actually available in a particular industry,” explained Tania Johnson, Career Advisor. “We hope that hearing about the different occupations within a specific industry will give them some clarity when it comes to thinking about what field they might want to work in after high school. I’d like to thank all of the companies, organisations and government departments that exhibited today.”

The Careers Fair was part of Career Activities Week which also included mock interviews and a motivational speech by Olympic swim coach Bailey Weathers.


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