New Course to Fast-Track Chefs in Northern Ireland

01 December 2010

An exciting new initiative is helping to fast-track chefs into the hospitality industry in Northern Ireland.

The Fast Track Chef Conversion course, which is being piloted at Belfast Metropolitan College and Southern Regional College, gives people with a passion for cooking the opportunity to train as a chef over a 25-week period, and is an excellent example of a sector's response to skills shortages in a time of economic difficulty. The course is the brainchild of the Future Skills Action Group (FSAG) for Hospitality and Tourism, which has developed a short term, action-focussed plan to help address the skills challenges facing the sector. The action plan, which was published in 2009, is entering its second year of activity and remains focused on priority skill needs identified in earlier research produced by People 1st. Roisin McKee, People 1st�s Northern Ireland manager, said: �The Future Skills Action Group for Hospitality and Tourism is a collaborative approach to tackling the needs of the sector. Bringing together the main stakeholders has meant that issues can be identified across the sector and innovative solutions developed. �The resultant action plan outlined a number of actions to be taken to address the lack of chef skills and to improve the levels of skills in the industry. As part of this plan, the Chef Conversion course is a welcome initiative for the sector.� The FSAG is chaired by Stephen Magorrian, managing director of Botanic Inns Ltd. Commenting on the way forward for the FSAG, Stephen said: �The group is building on the work done in the past year and has secured funding from the Department for Employment and Learning for projects such as careers awareness events and the development of a product knowledge module which will teach students undertaking customer service courses about what Northern Ireland has to offer the visitor. �It is vital that all the key stakeholders involved in hospitality and tourism continue to work together to dispel negative perceptions about the sector and show how vibrant it really is and the wide spectrum of career opportunities available.�