Connect aims to empower workers with free career advice
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Cayman, job recruiters experienced an influx of displaced workers seeking advice on how to retool their skill set.
With 8.6% Caymanian unemployment as of fall 2020, suddenly hundreds found themselves in need of professional support. The crisis disrupted not only Cayman’s tourism and hospitality sectors but the larger labour force, as professionals found themselves navigating a world of unknowns.
At Nova, career consultant Hannah Jackson saw an immediate need to empower Cayman Islands workers to survive in a strained market.
“A lot of individuals reached out to us to help them rebuild their resumes or rebuild their LinkedIn profiles or even to upskill themselves, so helping better their soft skills,” Jackson said.
While Nova specialises in paid recruitment and career services, Jackson and the Nova team, alongside CML Recruitment, began to brainstorm ways to better serve jobseekers most in need.
That’s where the concept emerged for Connect, a free, nonprofit service aimed at bridging the gap between job seekers and employers.
“Empowering young Caymanians to see all these different career paths is one thing, but also providing them with resources so that they can actually [pursue] the viable career options is something else,” Jackson said.
“What Connect can offer is that we work with recruiters and companies, and we have those relationships with the private sector and public sector, seeing what’s really in demand in the labor market.”
One of the first cohorts of workers that Connect assisted after the 2020 COVID lockdown included taxi and bus drivers. The Connect team was able redirect these displaced workers to delivery services like Let’s Eat and Island Grub. That initiative, Jackson said, helped demonstrate the community need, as well as the importance of adapting skillsets.
The long-term goal is for Connect to become an information-sharing hub that links not only workers and businesses but educators as well. By liaising with employers, the hope is to identify the actual needs of the labour market, so that schools and jobseekers can better focus on skills that will pay off. At UCCI, for example, Connect has recently booked 12 training sessions with the university’s employability skills course.
The programme also works closely with government entities like WORC.
“Our vision for Connect is to have a national workforce that is resilient, agile and that can continually develop in line with global business needs, occupation patterns and growth,” Jackson said.
“Our mission for Connect is to support Caymanians and the wider Cayman community so that everyone can achieve career success through guided access to education and training, but also employment.”
Through sponsorship from community partners, Connect is able to offer free career services to anyone who reaches out for support. That could mean reworking a resume or improving communication skills.
To maintain and expand the service, Jackson hopes to secure more support from community sponsors and partners. Eventually, she hopes to connect the islands’ entire professional network.
“Long-term, we definitely see this as being the core organization that individuals would come to for careers advice and guidance,” she said.
To learn more about Connect by Nova, visit connect.nova.ky.