UCOL is Serving Up New Chefs

The Universal College of Learning (UCOL) is offering a new programme for trainee cooks and chefs to earn a qualification whilst on the job to help the hospitality staffing situation.

UCOL is launching the New Zealand Certificate in Cookery Level 4, which will supplement on-the-job training with online learning and block courses.

Students will need to be in paid employment as a cook or chef for at least 20 hours a week and attend a six-day block course at the start of the programme, plus one day of classes per fortnight.

Lecturers will visit students in the workplace and work with employers to ensure the students are meeting programme requirements.

With the demand for kitchen staff so high, many workers enter the industry without a formal qualification.

This course will allow employees to work towards a qualification and develop complex skills to progress their careers.

According to Ian Drew, UCOL's head of school of technologies, the new programme was designed to accommodate the long hours and high-pressure work environments that can make it difficult for hospitality workers to upskill.

The course allows students to earn while they learn and complete online work in their spare time.

Students could be working in any hospitality business, from restaurants, cafes, and eateries to rest homes or food trucks.

Drew hoped the programme would encourage employers to hire new staff, as UCOL would work with the businesses to train them as qualified chefs.

This approach could also allow existing staff who want to move into cooking roles, such as kitchen hands or baristas, to become qualified.

This programme alleviates some employers' training responsibility, whilst maintaining a key role in how quality chefs are trained, said Drew.

Drew also hoped the opportunity to earn a qualification whilst working would attract new people to the industry.

The first intake starts on 4 October 2021 and is being taught through UCOL Whanganui and Manawatu.