Apprenticeship Programs: The Right Fit for You?

Are you an aspiring chef? Considering entering our exciting and passion-driven industry? If you’re looking to join us on the crusade to bringing beautiful food and building community across Canada, consider entering into an apprenticeship program. Restaurants Canada’s Anita Chauhan sat down with Michael Teune, faculty member at the Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism to discuss the benefits of an apprenticeship program and if it’s worth becoming one or not.

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Anita Chauhan: Is there a number or percentage that you can give for the amount of apprentices that receive jobs post apprenticeship?

Michael Teune: 100%. All apprentices are currently employed as part of the apprentice program. The advantage to the apprentice program is the ability to “Earn While You Learn.” The apprentice comes to school twice a week to maintain employment and a source of income while learning the necessary information to attain their Red Seal. There are bursaries available for both the apprentice and employer; apprentices can receive up to $4000.00 over 3 years and the employer can potentially receive $20,000 (1 years’ salary) to help offset the costs of training.

AC: Why are apprenticeships important? 

MT:

1. For the industry.

Apprenticeship is important to the industry; chefs are training the cooks in conjunction with the colleges. Apprentices have a MTCU pathway in the kitchen which moves them through all stations. Over the course of three years, the apprentice will learn each station with the guidance of a chef and can practice skills and techniques to gain the required proficiency. The college concurrently teaches the apprentice those skills and techniques that may not be taught in the field but are necessary to know as a chef.

2. For Employees.

As an apprentice myself, I was given the opportunity to learn from industry professionals every day. Whether that was at school or at work, I was always learning. I was also able to support myself, earning money while essentially having my education paid for through bursaries and other opportunities available to apprentices.

3. For Employers

As a chef who had apprentices at every level of training, I was able to maintain a solid training model, and give back to the industry what I had been given. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, I also helped the apprentice find their next job, often calling other employers (O&B, Fairmont, etc.) to take them on and help their career flourish. There are also the financial incentives given to employers that can help offset the initial costs of hiring and training.

AC: How do Apprenticeships, if at all, help promote community?

MT: Let’s talk about it. Let’s, as an industry, not forget that this is an opportunity to go out to a high school and ask the culinary teacher who is the best in the class and give them the opportunity. We all needed a role model to give us the opportunity at some point and this, as chefs, is it. Doing so will promote loyalty and build the next generation. Not to mention the countless opportunities chefs and cooks have to support local charities and events. Let’s face it, every event concept has a food and beverage requirement that requires a trained chef.

AC: Can you compare the net gains of the Hospitality industry vs. other industries when taking on apprentices?

MT: In a lot of other industries apprenticeship is the only way to gain a Red Seal and experience; because of this we see very strong numbers, such as electrician apprenticeships. In the hospitality industry there are several opportunities to learn the basics. The individual could choose to go to school, and then try to find work and hopefully like it. Or they can become an apprentice and work while learning. I will say this though, if you hire an apprentice and have he/she work for you for one year before you send them to school you are giving them the opportunity to see how the industry works. This will ensure that they are certain of their career choice prior to committing any funds to their education.

AC: Please explain how apprenticeships help open up opportunities for students /aspiring chefs.

MT: Networking. Once you start in this business you are networking. I have been fortunate to meet many industry professionals and I have dedicated a lot of time to building relationships with them. I still talk with people from my apprenticeship at least once a week, whether it is to help them find a potential apprentice or employee or just to keep in touch.

AC: Can you please explain the difference between an apprenticeship and a co-op, if one exists?

MT: An apprentice is a person who agrees to work with an employer for a salary and go to school at the same time. The training happens simultaneously whereas a co-op placement often happens at the end of schooling and is unpaid. The alternative is the OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) where an employer can have a student in their final semester of high school start their apprenticeship and be in co-op at the same time. This is one of the largest untapped opportunities in Ontario at the moment. An employer can contact their local schoolboard or Humber College and have them help place students in high school into their kitchens as a co-op student. The same student is also in college taking their full Level 1 Cook training, all at no cost other than time to the employer. As an employer this is a great way to recruit and as an apprentice there is no cost! It is really a win-win.

AC: How do apprenticeships help chefs grow?

MT: I think “grow” is the right word to use. Doing an apprenticeship is just that: growing. It takes many years and a lot of dedication to grow to become a chef. And any chef that has been an apprentice can relate to the process and wants to see others do the same. That is how we build a sustainable industry.

Entering a job with the right skills will make a world of difference for you! Interested in learning a bit more about apprenticeship training? Check out Humber College’s Culinary Co-op Diploma program.

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Author

Content Marketing Specialist at Restaurants Canada. For inquiries or guest submissions, contact achauhan@restaurantscanada.org