WelTec School of Creative and Hospitality has launched a new initiative looking to plug the labour shortages in the hospitality sector. The new programme, the WelTec Managed Traineeship New Zealand Certificate in Cookery Level 4, helps develop the passion of young chefs into vocational training. “What we are doing here is meeting the needs of both the student, who is eager to start earning and the hospitality industry, who want their trainees qualified,” said Ben Shadbolt, programme manager at WelTec’s School of Creative and Hospitality. 

“We have done this in response to research and significant engagement with the hospitality industry who desperately need qualified chefs to support the booming restaurant industry in our ‘cool little capital’, which is fast becoming a renowned ‘cool foodie capital’.”

Philipp Doerr and Olivia Scholten

Charley Noble’s head chef, Philipp Doerr, has encouraged his young trainee, Olivia Scholten, to sign up for the new programme. He said, “As a young person who is still learning, you can get paid and still get a qualification, plus you are immediately transferring what you learn in your tutorials to the kitchen.” Doerr has been impressed with Scholten’s progress, saying that she is a keen worker who has been willing to put the hard yards in. “This is impressive for a 20-year-old who has only been in our kitchen since February last year, so I pushed her to do the WelTec Course. I believe qualifications are very important for those who have ambitions in this industry.”

Scholten said, “I started in this industry washing dishes, and now I manage a section in a famous kitchen. There is so much more I still don’t know, and I am excited and determined to succeed in my course.”

Matt Gupwell outside Mr Go's

Another success story can be found at Mr Go’s, a modern Asian restaurant in the capital’s Taranaki Street. Matt Gupwell decided that he would like to pursue a career as a chef, and found that a qualification was necessary in order to be taken seriously. “The good thing about this course is that students will know the realities of working in a professional kitchen,” said Gupwell. “Study is stressful, but the kitchen is a different kind of stress.” Since completing the course, Gupwell has assumed more responsibility at Mr Go’s and hopes to one day be running the kitchen. 

Wellington’s Logan Brown has also advocated for the programme. School leaver Josh Hodson knew he was passionate about chefing even at school and has since chased his passion into the kitchen at Logan Brown. Hodson said, “I had a passionate food technology teacher who developed my love for cooking, and that is when I decided I wanted to be a chef.”

Josh Hodson and Shaun Clouston

Shaun Clouston, the executive chef at Logan Brown, said, “I could see Josh was committed to this job and wanted to learn more, I knew he would be a great candidate for formal study. The benefit of the new managed traineeship programme at WelTec is that I can keep him in the kitchen, but know that what he is learning with me will be backed up and supported with what the WelTec tutors can teach him on campus.”

The programme itself is a two-year, block release course that supports trainees who are currently working in the industry. Students will learn through practical tutorials in purpose-built environments. The tutors are highly trained and diverse, and students will have ample access to online guides and support. More information can be found here.