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New programme to train chefs in work

By UCOL on Wednesday, 01 September 2021

UCOL Training Kitchen

With the hospitality industry experiencing a major skills shortage, UCOL is set to offer a new programme that will allow budding cooks and chefs to earn a qualification while on the job.

UCOL is launching the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) (In-work), which will combine on- the-job training with online learning and block courses. As part of the programme, learners will need to be in paid employment as a cook or chef for at least 20 hours a week.
Learners will attend a six-day block course at the start of the programme, followed by one day of classes every two weeks. UCOL lecturers will regularly visit learners in the workplace and work with employers to ensure learners are meeting programme requirements. 

With demand for kitchen staff so high, many workers are entering the industry without a formal qualification. The New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) (In-work) will allow these employees to work towards a qualification and develop the more complex skills they need to further their careers.

UCOL Head of School of Technologies Ian Drew says high pressure work environments and long hours can make it difficult for hospitality workers to upskill, so the new programme is built specifically to accommodate that. 

“Learners will be able to earn while they learn and will have the flexibility to do the online work when it suits them.”

Learners could be working in a range of businesses including restaurants, cafés, hotels, eateries, rest homes, and even food trucks. 

Drew hopes the programme will encourage employers to hire new staff, as UCOL will work with businesses to train them as qualified chefs. This collaborative approach to training could also enable employers to upskill existing staff - such as kitchen hands or baristas – who want to move into cooking roles. 

“This programme means that the training of staff wouldn’t solely be the responsibility of employers, but they would have a key role in how qualified chefs are trained.”

Drew hopes the opportunity to earn a qualification while working will attract new people to the industry.

“It’s really hard to get chefs at the moment and there is a big shortfall in workers in the hospitality sector. Many chefs who came from overseas have gone home and can’t get visas to get back into the country, so we need to fill that skills shortage.

New Zealand Chefs Association National President Grant Kitchen says the programme is a great initiative as the hospitality industry needs as many resources is it can get.

“It’s a chance to upskill existing staff but also has great potential for recruiting new employees and expanding our workforce. I get calls every day from restaurant owners wanting chefs, so this programme is an opportunity for businesses to work in partnership with UCOL to train more chefs.”

The first intake for the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 4) (In-work) starts on 4 October and is being taught through UCOL Whanganui and Manawatū.