Cayman Finance may extend its Student Education and Work Experience Programme to Caymanian students in private schools, revealed its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jude Scott.
The programme was developed earlier this year as a part of the organisation’s community outreach and awareness efforts.
Mr Scott noted that the feedback he received was “fantastic” and that the programme garnered excellent results within its short time frame.
A survey was conducted and the results showed that 95 per cent of the students who participated rated it as very good/excellent.
Consequently, Cayman Finance made the decision to expand the programme and is currently collaborating with the Ministry of Education to see exactly what the expansion will entail.
Mr Scott said when they launched the pilot programme it was met with a high demand but the organisation could not accommodate this demand at the time.
Therefore, they are considering presenting the same opportunity to private school students by expanding it beyond government-owned institutions.
Mr Scott explained that the idea of the programme came about after the government had just released its minimum wage report and the unemployment statistics were analysed.
The analysis showed that while unemployment has been falling in the country it has been rising among young Caymanians around 18-25 years old with a high school and/or tertiary level education.
“As an economy we have four choices. Either we employ the students, or they go off to tertiary education, then we employ them, or they become dependent on social services, or they resort to crime to support themselves,” said Mr Scott.
He added that if the country does not want them to resort to the latter two, it has to come together and figure out how to ensure this segment of the population is properly employed.
“But there is also a responsibility from government’s perspective to ensure their education prepares them for employment,” said Mr Scott.
He stated that though it was not specifically in Cayman Finance’s mandate the organisation started to explore ways to tackle this trend and guarantee the opportunities are there for young Caymanians.
As a result it designed the programme to create awareness and pathways for these young people to get access to the financial service industry, which makes up approximately half of the economy, and 15 per cent of the work force.
The pilot programme was geared around students in the dual enrollment programme, which include students who have passed five or more subjects, including Math and English.
Students with less than five passes or those who miss Math and English move on to CIFEC where they attend classes three days a week and then mandatory unpaid work experience two days a week.
Unlike CIFEC students those in dual enrollment have no access to structured work experience because they are going to classes full time, Mr Scott highlighted.
“Generally these are going to be the students who are more likely to continue tertiary level education,” he stated.
As a result, Cayman Finance created the programme to specifically focus on these young people.
They developed the programme in two months (March and February) before they launched it in April.
Fifty students from the dual enrollment programme participated engaging in workshops, mentorship and internships.
The students did one workshop per week, for eightweeks. In the workshops they learned about the industry and the different types of careers it offers.
They also did a segment on soft skills which taught them the importance of these skills to be successful in the workplace.
Furthermore, Cayman Financearranged for 50 senior professionals in the industry to act as mentors over the eight-week period and meet with each student, one on one.
Their mentors would discuss with them careers, answer questions about the workshopsand talk to them about opportunities in the industry.
The students were also provided a one month paid internship in the summer with a financial firm.
Before they could begin theirinternships they had towrite resumes and undergo an interview process.
“The whole thing was designed to give them experience in the process and give them feedback on it,” Mr Scott mentioned.
The students chose whether they wanted to do their internships in July or August.
However, Mr Scott noted there were a number of organisations and students that said the internship was going so well that they wanted it to be extended through the rest of the summer.
“We want to ensure that the industry is as successful as it can be but we also understand our obligation to make sure that we’re doing things to ensure that the country and our young people are very successful, and that they have meaningful pathways.
“Prior to the programme many of these young people didn’t know anything about the industry and as a result had no real career plans for the industry,” Mr Scott added.
Now, some of those students have even been offered scholarships by the various organisations.
Mr Scott said one young lady’sfeedback was that the programme opened her eyes to a whole new world.
Cayman Finance and the Ministry of Education intend to roll out the final plans on the expansion in 2016.