Training project gives employers food for thought
A UNIQUE North East recruitment and training programme has cooked up a storm by addressing potential skill shortages, whilst finding work for the unemployed in the region.
Some of the region's top hotels are reaping the rewards of the 'Speedy Chef' programme, developed in partnership with the North East Employer Coalition (NEEC) and Jobcentre Plus.
As a result of a special selection process and a 12-week intensive training programme, a number of people from the region have been snapped up as apprentice commis chefs, including four at the Marriott Hotel Group.
Among them is Jake Lidster, 20, from Consett, who has secured a permanent job as an apprentice commis chef at the Newcastle Marriott Hotel Gosforth Park.
Jake said: “After school I went on to study law, but left when I realised that it wasn't really for me.
“Now that I've completed the 12-week training course, I've got some valuable experience under my belt, a nationally recognised qualification and a full time job. I can also continue my training through an apprenticeship in food preparation."
Joining Jake is Jason Ayre, 20, from Kelloe in County Durham, who is working as an apprentice commis chef at Durham Marriott Hotel Royal County.
Jason’s original plan was to become an Army cook. However, when he spotted details about the Speedy Chef programme, he knew it was too good an opportunity to miss out on.
“The Speedy Chef programme came along just at the right time and I was lucky to be offered a place. I received a generous training allowance, travel expenses, chef’s whites, chef’s knives, learning materials and examination fees. Now I’m doing a job I love”, he said.
Delivery of apprenticeships including advising employers, engaging with learner organisations, providing funding for apprenticeship training and a web-based apprenticeship vacancies system, is the responsibility of the National Apprenticeship Service.
As well as learning skills through on-the-job training, as apprentices, both Jake and Jason will receive additional support from VT Group, a specialist training provider to the hospitality and leisure sectors.
Catherine Olley, multi-site director of human resources, Durham Marriott Hotel, The Royal County, is delighted with the all-round partnership approach to addressing the Marriott Group’s skill needs.
She said: “We were finding it increasingly difficult to attract the high calibre people we needed to employ within our organisation, particularly in the catering teams.
“The partnership approach of this programme, which has included support from NEEC, the National Apprenticeship Service, Jobcentre Plus and VT Group, is helping to solve these potential skills issues. This is critical to future success, not just for our hotel group, but for the hotel industry as a whole.”
Janis Jones, sector development manager, NEEC, added: “From here, the apprenticeship programme will progress the apprentices' training and development even further.
“We also hope to be able to secure the necessary funding to support similar projects in the near future.”
* To find out more about becoming or employing an apprentice, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600, or visit the website www.apprenticeships.org.uk