Construction mentoring programme gets launched

A new initiative of the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers aims at identifying students who could excel in a career in the construction industry.  

Starting in January 2012, selected students will have a chance to experience what it would be like to have a career in the construction industry. 

The Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors & Engineers Mentoring Programme aims to build the next generation of cayman construction professionals. 

The cost-free programme, which is envisioned to be conducted every year, was announced by CASE Chairman Craig Nixon on Thursday 22 September during a reception to launch the call for nominations for the 2011 Governor’s Award For Design & Construction Excellence in the Cayman Islands. 

“The mentoring programme is designed to interest, attract and assist the brightest young Caymanian students to develop their professional careers in this internationally recognised, esteemed and highly rewarding industry,” Nixon said. 

The process of selecting students for the programme will begin with a small panel of CASE member professionals giving a series of short presentations at high schools and other educational bodies during October and November.

The presentations, which will be participatory in nature, will address a variety of construction industry career paths, including architects, engineers, surveyors, project managers, financial and general managers, plus all the trades and entrepreneurial opportunities.  

Nixon said those students chosen to participate in the programme will be matched with a volunteer CASE mentor to participate in four one-day sessions that will occur monthly between January and April.

In addition to spending time with their mentor, the students will visit a number of different construction projects with the idea of seeing them in various stages of completion.  

“We believe the new mentoring programme is a tremendous and exciting opportunity for the benefit and future well being of students, industry professionals and the Cayman Islands,” Nixon said.

“As most professionals will explain, building a career at such a young age can be extremely difficult, but with mentored guidance and support, the journey becomes so much easier and rewarding for everyone involved.” 

All students graduating from the CASE Mentoring Programme will receive certificates and for those who later enrol in a suitable tertiary programme in architecture, surveying or engineering, they will be qualified to become student members of CASE. This would allow them to attend CASE lectures for professional development and the Governor’s Award Ceremony. 

After completing the first year in a tertiary programme, the top student member of CASE will receive an award at the Governor’s Award Ceremony.  

Nixon said mentoring programme graduates would be encouraged to seek part-time or full-time employment with Cayman Islands employers.

This employment could come in the form of internships during school breaks while the students are pursuing tertiary education. 

“This will be mutually beneficial to employers – having interested high performers – and CASE mentoring programme students – working with local professionals and establishing the basis of their careers.” 

CASE mentors  

John Harvey, the CASE Mentoring Programme director, said that after the presentations are made in the schools in October and November, students interested in entering the mentoring programme should let their school’s career advisor officer/counsellor know they are interested.  

The selection of those accepted into the mentoring programme will be made by early-December based on information provided by the career advisor officer. By mid-December, mentors will be paired with the selected students.  

Mr. Harvey said only eight to 10 students will be chosen for the programme every year. 

During the mentorship sessions, students will spend about half the day touring construction sites in a group and the rest of the day individually with their mentors. Mr. Harvey said the students will not just be watching what their mentors are doing. 

“They’ll be participating,” he said, adding that they mentors will also have discussions about the construction industry with the students.

“They will give them some guidance to sort of put some muscle on the skeleton of their career.” 

One major role the mentor will play is helping the student identify the considerations needed in choosing the appropriate tertiary education programme that would lead to an internationally-recognised professional standing.

Harvey noted that with Cayman advancing toward a Professional Architects and Engineers Registration Law, it was more important than ever to ensure that any tertiary education received overseas for construction industry professions was relevant to the requirements in the Cayman Islands.  

Harvey said he had taken part in a similar mentoring programme in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce in the past. He said that when he served as a mentor in the Chamber programme, he gave his students tasks like research to do outside of the mentoring sessions, although he said those kinds of considerations in the CASE programme would be up to the individual mentors. 

Although students accepted into the CASE mentoring programme are expected to have an interest in pursuing a career in the construction industry, Harvey said it wasn’t necessary for them to have already chosen a specific discipline and that the mentoring programme could help them make that choice. 

Harvey said serving as a mentor was a way for successful construction industry professionals in Cayman to give back and “pass along help others gave us”. 

“This is especially significant here as so few kids have architects or engineers for family,” he said, adding that as a result these students wouldn’t know where to get guidance for a career in those professions elsewhere. 

“Such career paths are exceptionally challenging… and overall a lot of help and direction is required to become a registered design professional,” Harvey said. “However, the vocations and rewards are wonderful and well worth the effort.” 

Nixon, Craig 2

Craig Nixon