With the Covid crisis causing major skills shortages, UCOL has found a way to address the increasing problem of chef shortages by offering a new on-the-job cookery qualification to budding young kitchen wannabes.

The New Zealand certificate in cookery level 4 course combines on-the-job training with online learning and block courses.

Participants 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 up front, with another day in the classroom one day a fortnight.

UCOL’s head of school of technologies Ian Drew says some people are looking at how hard hospitality has been hit by the Covid lockdown restrictions and border closures and it’s been putting them off a career in the industry.

“However, from all the stakeholders that we have spoken to in the Manawatū some hospitality businesses in our region were absolutely pumping after lockdown and the rest of last year,” says Ian.

“People were out there spending money because they couldn’t go overseas and we were getting calls from local restaurateurs looking for staff every other week.”

The departure of so many migrant workers on visas who left New Zealand, or had to, in the past year or so had only exacerbated the problem.

There’s been some strong interest from operators who are hoping that if they sign up for the programme and choose to mentor young trainees that that those people may choose to stay on and work for them after the course is complete, says Ian. “They’ve got a staff member for a year at least and hopefully that relationship will build during that time.”

UCOL has modelled its programme on some of the best aspects of similar on-the-job qualifications operating around New Zealand, such as Ara Institute of Canterbury’s (Christchurch Polytechnic) and EIT (Eastern Institute of Technology). “We wanted to be a little more focused with our approach. As long as everyone’s on board we can complete the course all in one year.

The first course starts in early October with intakes in January, July and October every year.

To apply see: https://www.ucol.ac.nz/programmes/chef-training-hospitality/new-zealand-certificate-in-cookery-(level-4)-(in-work)

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