• Cyril McAree

National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme Launched

Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, yesterday launched an industry-led National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme that will provide young aspiring chefs across Ireland with a two–year formal education and training programme to begin their careers as professional chefs. The programme, the only one of its kind in the country, is supported by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), the Irish Hospitality Institute (IHI), Euro-toques Ireland, Catering Management Association of Ireland (CMAI), Fáilte Ireland, SOLAS, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and Institutes of Technology (IOTs). Over 110 places are available initially and all those who have a keen interest in and a creative flair for cooking are encouraged to apply. The scheme is available to young people aged over 16 years, existing kitchen staff and anyone else who wishes to gain an internationally recognised qualification.

Picture shows from left Tim Fenn, CEO, IHF and Chair, Consortium Steering Group; Agnieszka Niedzielak, Commis chef apprentice from Jury's Christchurch; Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Education and Skills; and Pat O'Doherty, Chair, Apprenticeship Council and CEO ESB; at the launch of the National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme. Pic: Naoise Culhane

Launching the apprenticeship programme, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, TD, said, “I am delighted to launch the new Commis Chef Apprenticeship today. This new national apprenticeship offers a welcome pathway to a career in the hospitality sector, where apprentices will learn critical skills to succeed in their field.

One of the greatest casualties of the recession were apprenticeships. Registrations collapsed and fell by over 80% during the period. I am keen during my time as Minister to now, not only reverse this trend and rebuild traditional pathways but to significantly expand apprenticeships into new industries. I believe that expanding the range of pathways available to people to achieve their career goals is key to fulfilling our ambition to be the best in Europe by 2026.

This Government is committed to more than doubling the number of new apprentices registered to 9,000 by 2020 and expanding further into new areas. Budget 2018 allocated €122m to apprenticeship training, an increase of almost 24% to deliver on this goal.”

Pat O'Doherty, Chair of the Apprenticeship Council and ESB Chief Executive, said: “The Commis Chef programme is an important addition to the growing number of apprenticeship opportunities available in Ireland. It is an excellent example of how the continued expansion of the apprenticeship system can help address ongoing and future skills needs, enabling young people to optimise their potential while creating a highly skilled workforce that, in turn, will help contribute to the continuous improvement of standards.”

Picture shows from left Darren Brady, Commis Chef Apprentice, the Redbank, Terry McCoy, proprietor, the Redbank, Agnieszka Niedzielak, Commis Chef apprentice, Jurys Inn Christchurch and Darina Brennan, Executive Chef, Dalata Hotel Group; at the launch of the National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Programme. Pic: Naoise Culhane

The programme was launched at a reception in Dublin, which was attended by representatives of the hospitality and tourism industry as well as the seven Education and Training Boards involved in delivering the educational aspects of the programme. Mr Tim Fenn, Chair of the National Commis Chef Apprenticeship Consortium Steering Group and Chief Executive, Irish Hotels Federation, said, “Professionally trained chefs with a passion for their work are incredibly important to the success of Ireland’s tourism and hospitality industry which relies heavily on the consistent delivery of a quality product. This programme will help add to the existing pool of culinary talent in Ireland’s hospitality industry, while also nurturing the budding chefs of the future.”

Mr Fenn added: “One of the key features of the programme is the “earn and learn” opportunity it offers. This enables young people, who may not necessarily want to commit to a full time college course, to gain an internationally recognised qualification, while getting valuable on the job experience. We would urge anyone considering a career as a commis chef or hotels and restaurants interested in mentoring to find out more about this programme by visiting www.apprenticeship.ie.”

President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, Liam Edwards said “we are delighted to support this fantastic initiative, which will no doubt be a huge support in attracting apprentices into our growing sector over the coming years.”

Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Commercial Development, Paul Keeley today emphasised: “A career in hospitality can be a passport to a world of opportunities and we in Fáilte Ireland have been very happy to work with our industry partners and Solas to develop this practical and effective learning option. As tourism goes from strength to strength, we will need more and more skilled workers and it is very encouraging to see all the relevant actors in the sector coming together to introduce important interventions like this.”

The structured two-year education and training programme incorporates periods of off-the-job knowledge and skills development in a college or centre with work-based knowledge and skills development in an approved hotel or restaurant kitchen. Apprentices will develop the theory, science and culinary skills in a college or education and training centre and put these skills into practice under the mentorship of qualified and experienced chefs in the kitchens of SOLAS approved hotels and restaurants.

On successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, newly qualified Commis Chefs will receive a QQI Level 6 Major Award - Advanced Certificate in Culinary Arts. They will also be eligible to progress to the Chef de Partie Apprenticeship at QQI level 7.

The programme will be delivered from seven Education and Training Boards (ETBs) with up to 16 places available on each course:

· Cavan: Cavan/Monaghan ETB, Cavan Institute, Cathedral Road, Cavan.

· Cork: Cork ETB, Westside Centre, Model Farm Road, Bishopstown, Cork City.

· Dublin: Crumlin College of Further Education, Crumlin Rd, Drimnagh, Dublin 12.

· Dublin: Colaiste Ide College of Further Education, Finglas West, Dublin 11.

· Galway: Galway/Roscommon ETB, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway.

· Kerry: Kerry ETB, Kerry College of Further Education, Tralee.

· Limerick: Limerick ETB, Hospitality Education & Training Centre, Limerick City.

The Tourism industry as a whole now supports approximately 230,000 jobs - equivalent to 11% of total employment in Ireland with almost 60,000 of these jobs created since 2011.

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