THE importance of apprenticeships was served up in mouthwatering style during a culinary contest at Hartlepool College of Further Education.
As part of National Apprenticeship Week a host of activities are being lined up to showcase the skills of college apprentices and to highlight the benefits to local businesses.
Hartlepool College of Further Education has almost 500 apprentices from around 300 companies learning their trade at the town centre campus.
A number of employers attended a celebration event at the college in which catering students put their skills to the test in a Hell’s Kitchen-style event featuring such mouth-watering dishes as Stilton and red onion tart with rocket salad and balsamic dressing, chicken supreme stuffed with sausage and apple and braised beef served with leek dumpling.
The two teams had to prepare menus for the invited guests and while they toiled away in the heat of the Bistro kitchen, businesses bosses spoke of the value of taking on apprentices.
Restaurateur Krimo Bouabda told how structured apprenticeship schemes were the future of Hartlepool’s tourism and hospitality industry.
He said: “We need people who are trained properly.
“Hartlepool is becoming a very big tourist attraction. What we need to think about is the future in areas like hospitality, hotels and restraurants and with apprentices we know exactly where we are.
“The future for us is getting as many apprentices in as we can because we need them.”
It turned out to be a double celebration for Krimo when he learned that his apprentice, Ross Anderson, passed his driving test just hours before the challenge started.
Ross, 17, who lives in the Clavering area of Hartlepool, is in his second year of the catering course and hopes to make it big in the culinary world.
He said: “I hope to work my way up to becoming a better chef and have a successful career.
“It is brilliant working with Krimo and combining my studies at the college.”
Businesswoman Janice Auton, who runs Poppy’s Hair Salon, put her success down to the apprentices.
She said: “Apprentices have been the mainstay of my business for the last 22 years. I would not be where I am without them.
“Employing young people brings with it motivation and growth.
“I now employ 25 people and every one has been through the apprenticeship scheme.
“I know the system has worked for me and I want to thank Hartlepool College of Further Education and its dedication to apprenticeships for helping me become the success I am today.”
Former Hartlepool College of Further Education student Kelly Adamson, who now runs the successful recruitment company Adept Solutions, grasps every opportunity to plug the benefits of apprenticeships.
She admits it has become a moral crusade for her and she extols the benefits at every opportunity while meeting businesses bosses in her daily role.
She said: “It’s not a commercial interest. I just think it’s really, really important.
”My involvement is not from a financial perspective but more of a moral duty.”
Hartlepool College of Further Education has been the largest provider of apprentices in the Tees Valley area for a number of years and helps recruit apprentices as well as providing on-going training and education throughout the apprenticeship duration.
Graham McPhail, director of apprentices at Hartlepool College of Further Education, told assembled business bosses: “Apprenticeships is where the Government is looking at growth for the future. We are looking at new areas of apprenticeships and looking to expand and grow the apprenticeship programme. We need the support and commitment of companies and people like yourselves here today.”
Anyone interested in starting an apprenticeship programme or any employer who wishes to be part of the successful programme should contact student services on (01429) 295111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.