posted on May 18th, 2017

Award-Winning Chef Launches His Fourth Apprentice Programme


Award-winning chef Niall McKenna announced the launch of his fourth consecutive Chef Apprentice Programme for the 2017/18 academic year, amid real concerns of a skills gap in the sector.

This scheme of education and training within the James Street South restaurant group, in collaboration with Belfast Met, has provided invaluable front line experience for the next generation of hospitality professionals.

Previously endorsed by the Department for the Economy, the apprenticeship programme is open to 16-24 year olds who are given the opportunity to learn and hone essential skills from some of the best chefs in Northern Ireland.

Working across the group, which includes the flagship James Street South, the Bar & Grill, Hadskis, The Cookery School and Cast & Crew in the Titanic Quarter, the 12 successful students will combine this on-the-job training with two days’ attendance at the Belfast Metropolitan College to gain their professional qualifications.

Niall McKenna, James Street South, with Apprentices Cathal O’Kane and Jack Kerr with Dr Andrea Cooper, Belfast Business School, Belfast Met.
Niall McKenna, James Street South, with Apprentices Cathal O’Kane and Jack Kerr with Dr Andrea Cooper, Belfast Business School, Belfast Met.

Niall is also spearheading Belfast Met’s latest course for 12 students within the school of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Students in the new Front of House Apprenticeship will have the opportunity to spend two days in college with three days of practical across the James Street South Group.

Niall says the initiative is crucial for ensuring the future success of the industry here. “We are extremely proud of this initiative and it has been empowering to see so many of our former students continue to pursue careers in the local hospitality sector, with many still working across the group.

“There is a severe shortage in the number of skilled professionals in Northern Ireland to fill roles in the new hotels, restaurants and venues opening or planned across the city and province.”

24 chefs have received world-class training since the Apprenticeship programme began, with many applicants coming from a variety of backgrounds, including zoology, business, and English.

Dr Andrea Cooper, Course Administrator with Belfast’s Metropolitan College, said: “There has never been a better time to embark on a career in this industry – whether back or front of house. Working in partnership ensures that our learners develop the full range of skills required to achieve early career success.”

Anyone interested in the Apprentice Scheme should submit applications by the 1st of September 2016, with interviews taking place in the days following.

For more information go to: http://www.jamesstreetsouth.co.uk/about/apprenticeships.php