Stingray City, Cayman’s #1 Tourism Attraction, Enjoys Full Protection

Six CIFEC students complete the internship program for the year and are rewarded with a Catamaran sail, and for some, a job offer

This school year, through partnerships with the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC), the School of Hospitality Studies and Mentoring Cayman, Red Sail Sports Sports has continued to focus on introducing young Caymanians to career opportunities in tourism.

As part of the School of Hospitality Studies apprenticeship program, 17- year-old Ashleigh Whittaker apprenticed as a beach attendant in her second and third semesters. Ashleigh has decided on a career in tourism, at this point specifically in watersports. A year ago she wasn’t sure which career path to take, but the internship and her experience with Red Sail Sports has changed that.

“The program was an absolute eye-opener because it helped me better plan my future. I learned to set goals, and by setting goals it gave me something to work for, which is an amazing feeling every time you achieve one,” she said. “Before I took part, I was really unsure about what I wanted to do, or if I would truly find my passion in work, but as I progressed through the program and visited different areas of hospitality it became clear that my passion was in the water sports field.”

The students worked 2 days a week during the school year and attended classes 3 days. After orientation and on-the-job training, they learn lessons in professionalism, customer interaction, work priorities and hard work. Ashleigh Whittaker apprenticed as a beach attendant for two semesters, and she plans to continue her apprenticeship for the third semester.

“My experience with the Red Sail Sports team has been truly amazing,” she said. “I have learned a lot about myself, the people I work with and Red Sail Sports in total. It was very inspiring to have such a positive working environment, especially since everyone was so willing to show me the ropes. Everyone took me right under their wing and when I made mistakes they didn’t criticize me, they instead showed me how to do whatever the task was in the right way. I feel overwhelmed with happiness to be a part of the Red Sail family.”

Ashleigh says her mentor Delano Mitchell played a big role in her success. “He helped me to come out of my shell, which made it much easier for me to interact with guests and build bonds.”

Red Sail Sports also continues to support the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre by hosting work placement assignments for the 2014 – 2015 school year.   This year they hosted 7 students, working 2 days a week and attending classes 3 days for the school year.  In addition to orientation and on-the-job training, they learned lessons in professionalism, customer interaction, work priorities and hard work.

“We are so proud of these students,” said Beth Hiryok, Red Sail Sports Training Manager. “This has been our best year ever in terms of success rate. Of the 7 who began the program in September 6 successfully completed it.  The students have shown a positive attitude, enthusiasm for the job, and eagerness to learn; what we consider to be critical to their success.”

Red Sail Sports managers and mentors are involved, and credited with, making sure the students have a positive experience so they can grow and succeed. Supporting the programs from the start, they attended the initial student career fair in September and assisted with interviews and placement. Once the students were placed, Red Sail Sports staffers served as career coaches and mentors throughout the year to help the students adjust to the professional environment of the company and learn real-life lessons meant to boost their confidence with co-workers and customers.

“We saw positive changes in these students through the year, from the start of the program to the end of the program,” said Hiryok. “Of the 6 who completed the program, 3 students will be offered permanent positions with the company.”      

The success of the student work experience programs depends on strong partnerships between the students, the parents, the employers, and the schools, so to foster these partnerships Red Sail Sports hosted a Sunset Sail for everyone involved. The sail provided a great opportunity for people to mingle and discuss the successes and challenges of the program. 

“Red Sail Sports has acknowledged on a regular basis, interns that have demonstrated the commitment and behaviours that showcase the values of the company, and this was evident by the Sunset Sail organized to congratulate Red Sail Interns on a job well done!” said Heather-Ann Cahill of the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre.  “Red Sail Sports has been an excellent advocate and supporter of the Internship Programme …consistently so.”

Three of Red Sail Sports’ staff also participated in the Chamber of Commerce’s Mentoring Cayman program this year. The program matches mentors with mentees with common interests and career choices to help participants achieve professional goals. Two of the students at Red Sail Sports with an interest in marine biology explored scuba diving for the first time and Red Sail sponsored their certification as part of the mentorship program.

105 local companies participated in the Year 12 Internship Programme 2014-2015, offering unpaid opportunities to 250 students with the aim of preparing students for the world of work. The Cayman Islands Further Education Centre opened in September 2010 with the reorganization of secondary schools. For more information call (345) 925-5424 or [email protected].

The School of Hospitality Studies (SHS), now in its second year, is the result of an industry-driven, Government and UCCI-supported initiative to revitalize and improve tourism and hospitality training in the Cayman Islands. For information [email protected] or call 1.345-623-8224.

Launched in 2002, Mentoring Cayman is a youth development initiative that has assisted more than 300 high achieving and motivated high school students to become the next generation of business and community leaders. For more information call 1-345-949-8090 or email [email protected].

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