AN initiative which has already created jobs is gaining in popularity across the North East hotel industry.
Speedy Chef, developed and funded in partnership with the North East Employer Coalition (NEEC), Jobcentre Plus, the Apprenticeship Service, local colleges and participating employers, aims to fill the huge skills shortage when it comes to recruiting trained, committed commis chefs within the hospitality sector.
Within the training programme, unemployed candidates undertake an intensive 12-week learning experience of education, mentoring and practical chef skills. It is clear to see the benefits to both employers and candidates, considering this type of training would normally take 12-18 months of college learning.
Through continuing assessment via college lecturers and head chefs, the programme trains, mentors and provides practical industry experience for candidates to achieve their NVQ level 2 in Food Production and Cookery.
Prior to this, a pre-employment ‘route-way’ is delivered over four days at college, allowing students to sample what is required by way of commitment and passion for this career path, leading to placement-ready certification in Food and Hygiene.
The latest intake of candidates has seen 11 potential commis chefs take up placements with employers throughout the Newcastle and Northumberland area, including the Battlesteads, Longhirst Hall, Langley Castle, Blackmore’s of Alnwick, Linden Hall and Six at the Baltic. College training and mentoring is being provided by Tyne Metropolitan College.
Janis Jones, NEEC sector development manager, said: “Speedy Chef is a tremendous opportunity for employers to mentor trainees on their premises and provides a no cost, no risk solution to finding suitable, fully-trained commis chefs.
“For the candidate, this provides an exciting, hands-on experience in a real kitchen, leading to a job-ready NVQ qualification at the end of the 12-week programme.”
For the host employer, the benefits are clear: a willing potential job candidate working under the management of a head chef, with an industry-related qualification at the end of the programme. For most employers, the candidates soon take up full-time employment within their kitchens.
Richard Sim, manager of Six Restaurant at the Baltic and Zecco in Amble, is very impressed with the Speedy Chef programme and his candidate, Michael Pengelly, who started his placement last month.
Mr Sim said: “Finding the right candidate isn’t an easy task, and for a high-profile restaurant like Six at the Baltic, ensuring our employees are fully committed to all aspects of catering and customer service is essential.
“We can already see that Michael is a committed, high-calibre trainee and we are delighted to support him throughout the programme. I would highly recommend Speedy Chef to any other hotel or restaurant looking for qualified chefs.”
More recently, the programme has extended into Sunderland, Durham and Tees Valley with ten previously unemployed candidates from around Teesside gaining placements with high-profile hotels such as Rockliffe Hall and Wynyard Hall.
:: To find out more about employing an apprentice, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 0800 150 600, or visit the website www.apprenticeships.org.uk