Getting Britain back to work

16 January 2012
A two-way partnership between Oaklands College and Job centre Plus has created a unique boot camp style course to prepare local unemployed residents for an interview at the new Jamie Oliver restaurant opening in St Albans and a future career in the hospitality and catering industry.

Specifically designed around a role in the new Jamie's Italian restaurant, due to open in the town centre in February, the course was put together to not only prepare candidates for an interview with one of Jamie's Italian's senior chefs, but also to give them a start in the world of hospitality and catering.

Candidates had a week of intensive training, learning about food safety, hygiene, employee duties and opportunities in the industry, and were given an interview with senior chef, Shwan Baban, on the last day. They have also gained a VRQ qualification in hospitality and catering.

In total, ten of the candidates have been offered jobs at Jamie's Italian and one is due for an interview early this week.

Ann Bailey, Hospitality and Catering Assessor, Oaklands College, said: "Everyone has really wanted to be here and worked really hard. It has truly opened up career opportunities that perhaps they had not considered before. On one of the exercises, three of our candidates were given the chance to apply for jobs at other restaurants, so it really has given them a new chance to forge a career in the industry."

"We built the course around the needs of the job but we also wanted to give them an accreditation at the end so they can carry on more easily to study in this area."

Alison Johnson, an unemployed mother and home carer in St Albans, said:
"I heard about this course through Job centre Plus and I had never done anything to do with hospitality and catering before. I have been unemployed for ten years but in the past, done factory work.

"I wanted to do something different and it's been fantastic. I have really learnt a lot and I now know that even if I don't get a job at the end of this, I want to carry on studying hospitality and catering and get a role in this area. The highlights of the course have been meeting new people and getting an interview at the end of it."

Michael Moore, who after doing some training in catering as well as health and social care, has been unemployed and looking to get into the hospitality and catering industry, commented: "My long-term goal is to be a pastry chef and this course has given me the chance to see what it's like to work in a professional kitchen. The best part for me was going out into the town centre and contrasting and comparing different types of food establishments, as well as getting an interview at the end of the course!"

Jane Devlin, of St Albans Jobcentre Plus, said: "It's great to see new jobs being created in St Albans and we will continue to ensure local jobseekers get the support they need to take up these opportunities.

“This course helped prepare people for a job interview in this exciting industry by developing their skills and offering valuable experience and qualifications."

Zoe Hancock, Oaklands College Principal, commented: "This course has been a fantastic opportunity for local people to gain training and a potential job with an exciting national restaurant company.

"This unique training course has been created through the strength of partnership between Oaklands College and Job centre Plus and we are proud to be involved. I wish each candidate the best of luck!"

Sarah Stephenson, Recruitment and Communication Coordinator for Jamie's Italian said: “I've just spoken to Shwan Baban, one of our senior chefs, who was impressed by the calibre of interviewees put forward and we're in the process of making nine job offers which will complete our team in St Albans. “

“It's always exciting to work with and offer opportunities to the local community in this way.  The JCP and Oaklands College have been a fantastic support in our recruitment process and hopefully we can continue to build links with them both in the future.”