19th Nov 2009 - 00:00
Junior Chefs' Academy will benefit from a two-year funding commitment by contract caterers Compass Group UK and Ireland to support the initiative until June 2012.
Compass has partnered with People 1st, the sector skills council for the hospitality and leisure industry, to build the skills of future young chefs through the roll-out of the Junior Chefs' Academy, which has been supported by the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL). DEL originally funded a two year pilot, as part of the Future Skills Action Plan for Hospitality and Tourism, which will conclude in June 2010, and the Compass investment secures the Junior Chefs' Academy programme in the six regional colleges for a further two years. This follows a pilot programme launched earlier this year which introduced 100 students aged 12 to 16 to the dynamics of a career as a chef. Three of those students have now taken the next step on the career ladder and are studying for the new Level 1 Diploma Introduction to Professional Cookery at South Eastern Regional College. The pilot has now doubled to 12 programmes this academic year. Andy Aston from Compass Group UK and Ireland works with the company's HR team to put together training and development plans for chefs, to help junior chefs to become sous and head chefs and is also responsible for overseeing how the Junior Chefs' Academy courses are run in colleges throughout the UK and Ireland. Vicky Williams, HR director, resourcing & development, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: "It can be difficult to make life-shaping decisions about career direction as a teenager, deciding what qualifications to do and what profession to pursue. "Through our Junior Chefs' Academy we give students a taste of what it is like to be a chef and, being part of the world's largest caterer, Compass can show the diverse opportunities that being a chef can offer, from catering in schools, to offshore oil platforms and in major sports stadia. We hope that by investing in these young adults, we can help them to make informed decisions about their future." Last month (October 09) the Junior Chefs' Academy was awarded the Hospitality Training Initiative of the Year at the inaugural Licensed Catering News (LCN) Awards in Belfast. Judges commented that the programme "demonstrated a fundamental understanding of the needs of the hospitality sector and went about creating solutions which will have far reaching and long term benefits.''