University College of the Cayman Islands students were recently awarded their first accreditation in their Institute of Motor Industry course, a step-up in their careers within the motor industry and a real step forward for diversifying business opportunities and enhancing the local talent within the industry. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.
The UCCI Level 1 Course in Light Vehicle Maintenance has now reached the end of its first year with 17 students successfully passing their final exams and an official ceremony taking place last month to honour the students.
Earlier this year at a special ceremony, the UCCI celebrated the successful completion of the first year of its automotive programme, launched in partnership with the UK-based IMI awards and accreditation organisation. This course is the first of its kind for the University and the completion ceremony marked an important milestone for the institution.
IMI graduates received their IMI Certification from the Executive Director of IMI Awards, Alan MacKrill and the Chief Verifier for IMI, Stephen Laurenson, when they visited Cayman to look at ways to enhance the programme in Cayman.
UCCI Department Chair for Continuing Education and Vocational Studies, Ray Jones, explains the background to the new course at the UCCI: “Auto mechanics training had been undertaken at the UCCI (then CCCI) from the mid Eighties but was discontinued in 1995 due to lack of interest from the target recruitment zone, i.e. the high schools. In 2008 the UCCI decided to launch a pilot programme on a part-time basis in an attempt to gauge interest for auto mechanics training and 20 people joined up, some of whom were already working as trainee mechanics. Tony Toys kindly offered the use of their facilities in which to undertake the training.”
Student David Terry, who works for Automotive Art as an Inventory Technician says that the course has been extremely relevant to his current work, and states: “Even though I don’t work directly with motor vehicles the course gives me exposure to that environment. I hope to gain independent knowledge from the course that will make me flexible in this field.”
Nathaniel Wilsher works for his stepfather at Scott’s Equipment. He has been studying on the IMI programme in tandem with studying for an electrical course at the UCCI and believes the IMI course will be “the perfect opportunity to get a firm start in the automotive industry.” He says the course has been informative and challenging.
A full-time student, Javier Medina is also studying two courses – for an Associates degree in Computer Science as well as the IMI course. He says he would like to study for the next level of the IMI programme in a bid to extend his subject knowledge even further.
Marcus Huggins, who works for GT Automotive as a trainee mechanic says that further study “would be very useful as there is always something new to learn in the automotive field with new technologies being developed every year.”
As an apprentice at Eurocar, Zak Quappe is also enthusiastic about further study, stating that it would “raise my standard of work.”
Owen Laurenson, Automotives Director and Adjunct Professor for the UCCI stated that he is extremely pleased with how well this first accredited automotive course of its kind has been received in Grand Cayman, passing on his congratulations to the students for their commitment and eagerness to learn throughout the course.
He states: “We already have 10 students registered for the next level 1 course to be released in September before the course registration opens up to interested students.”
Laurenson in the meantime is also working with the John Gray High school in the successful launch of their own IMI approved level 1 course this year. He says the response overall for automotive courses and qualifications has been magnificent, with the number of students planning to study in automotives either through the John Gray High School or UCCI evening class for the IMI approved Level I in Light Vehicle Maintenance expected to reach over 200 students.
Existing students who have passed the Level 1 are now eager to move onto Level 2, therefore Owen Laurenson is working with the Education Department, the UCCI and the John Gray High School to try to work out shared resources and locations to launch level 2 early next year.
Interest for IMI accredited training has also come from as far away as Trinidad and Tobago where Laurenson has been invited to present to the University of the West Indies in the not to distant future.
“The ultimate goals,” Laurenson states, “are to have a fully available automotive modern apprentice programme here in Grand Cayman that provides the youth of Cayman a seamless transition from High School education, through to a fully recognised and accredited automotive apprenticeship and a further education automotives syllabus to study at least to diploma level in automotive management.”
“The future is exciting,” Laurenson confirms. “It’s in our grasp; we now just need the support and commitment from the government, Education Department and potential students to make it happen.”
UCCI Acting President, Brian Chapell says the UCCI is continually evaluating labour needs in the local market to meet the demands wherever possible. He says: “Our construction technology and electrical technology certificate programmes have had input from organisations such as the Cayman Contractors Association. The need for significant investment and commitment to technical and vocational education in the Cayman Islands has been well recognised and the UCCI would like to play an important role.”