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The Impact of Passion Improvers---Passion Removers Within An Apprenticeship of Commercial Cookery. By John Miller reprinted

The tenor of this article is to forcefully bring to the attention of Management within the Hospitality, Catering Industry and the Appropriate Authorities the increasing importance of encouraging young people to enter into ,then train within a nurtured indentured apprenticeship and there after remain a passionate committed commercial cook.

The following points and any forthcoming alternatives must be fully addressed; otherwise there will be forever a shortage of skilled cooks much to the loss for the public of the dinning away from the home experience in food preparation and food service providers, which in turn will bring about a reduction in the need for viable catering enterprises.

Until the present saga within the Food Service industries as a whole is not overcome then “The Industry” must be held responsible , because of their indifference—their lack of support for training both “on the job” and “off the job” as described in the report of 2001. The “off the job” learning and instruction must be in a separate entity if conducted in a committed enterprise, which has been accorded a Registered Training Organisation status. The learning offered has to be in a controlled, disciplined, set aside, well-equipped area following the industry approved and fully costed expensive curriculum with the appropriate syllabi.

The staffing of any Registered Training Organisation must include certified credentialed cooks, thus ensuring the environment serves the apprentice with overall ultimate learning experiences in commercial cookery.

At the completion of the indenture and schooling, the competent commis cook must have the full knowledge to gain employment in any food preparation kitchen be it in hotels, restaurants, airline catering, hospitals and institutions and never solely as required for the potential narrow specific in-house needs of the training organisation.

A Registered Training Organisation with approved teacher trained staff, following the industry-approved curriculum must deliver every aspect needed to set up the apprentice with the TECHNICAL and just as important a grounding of FURTHER EDUCATION for a life long development to the betterment of the young disciplined and passionate artisan, the industry and society.

Apprentices do not employ apprentices. That is the prerogative of Management, who must have the betterment of commercial cookery as their top priority. They must canvass, within a syntality approach, then support any initiatives coming from the group to engage in recruitment of potential career minded apprentices with back up personnel with superior interviewing techniques, infused with integrity and professionalism. Coupled this, with a fervent desire to do all that is possible to overcome the skill shortage of many decades, not only in commercial cookery but also in other trades associated with hospitality, catering and tourism.

The first step is to overcome the attrition rates and if need be retraining of apprentices who have lost the passion for commercial cookery careers through the following or contrasuggestive points.

      • The 2001 report “The Recipe for Change”—The Future of Commercial Cookery in Australia, does give an insight into the need for directional changes especially in encouraging new entrants to commercial cookery. The principle objective, the tenor of the report was to overcome the skill shortage within five years {2001-2006}. However, in 2006 it would appear little progress has been accomplished in achieving an increase of two thousand cooks across Australia each year over and above the 13000 to 14000 intake, nor does it take into account any attrition rate.

As originally pointed out there were three reason that contribute to the high drop out rate namely:{a} Low wages in first and second year which are marginally above welfare payments, {b} Funding for training needs to be increased, {c} A considerable improvement in the linkage between schools and the apprenticeship sector. Since that article appeared in the media additionally to those points the following can now be added .All would appear to have some bearing in rectifying the loss and the regaining of the original Passion to be a member of the commercial cookery fraternity.

1. There is a need to build on the original passion and to continually nurture that passion by the

     Employer and the Registered Training Organisations with further input from mentors such as  
     members of The Culinary Federation of Australia Inc, Les Toques Blanches Inc and L’Académie  
     Culinaire de France Inc {Australie].et al.

2. Employer / Employee organisations must do all in their power to assist with the fulfilment

     needs of usually an indentured "enfant in law” engaged in commercial cookery.                                                 1
     As stated in the executive summary of the 2001 report, “there is scope for better management to                                                
     motivate and encourage cooks/chefs to stay in the industry.” That sentiment should first apply to        
     indentured staff. Only 20% in 2001 adhered to a better management approach whereas 80% would be 
     ready to learn the lesson.

3. Nurture the apprentice through the first and second years so they will see the light of a completed

    indenture in the third year. With or without a consolidated fourth year “on the job” with the original  
    committed employer.                                                                                                                          

4. Funding has to be available and “locked in” to fully cover all the set down and very expensive

    commodities of the approved curriculum for food preparation skill training. 
    A yearly detailed food/commodities, staffing and resources budget /audit for the duration of the course.                             

5. Ensure the reputations of the fully listed Registered Training Organisations are of the highest

    order, including their staffing and teaching resources.

6. Pay full attention to the reputation and the experience of the Chef Instructors and insist on

     Teaching Training Programs. Remove the ill-founded untrained part-time teacher approach.
       A committed passionate full time teacher will induce a passionate life long student.

7. Insist on courses in motivational skills for Chef Instructors and Senior kitchen personnel in

     Industry by in-house personnel supervisors or managers.

8 Encourage the endorsement of The Chef Instructors by their peers in industry and the training facilities. 9 Recognise the bearing of the proximity of the training establishment to the home and place

    of employment ; consider the home sick factor if the young person has to leave home for the 
    first time to gain employment .Recognise the length of the potential travel time taken subject to 
    late night / early morning public transport prior to acquiring a drivers licence.

10. Employers and training establishments must ensure the evening period of a school day

    does not impinge on any social activities for it may well be one of times the young would be 
    artisans have time to spend with friends or family who are not members of the cookery fraternity.

11. Give serious consideration to the roster and rotation of weekend work. 12. Enforce a reasonable time allowed for rest in the evening prior to the school day. 13. Under no circumstances returning to work in the evening after the schooling and no classes

     /schooling in the evening of the school day.

14. Perception of the apprentice as to the Professionalism of the Chef Instructor and the hands

    on senior members of the kitchens. {How much damage is the loud, foul mouth so called celebrity   
    chef doing to recruitment for the food preparation arena.}

15. What parent or guardian in their right mind would encourage their “enfant in law “to be

    involved in catering after viewing some of these T.V programs. Remember the indentures 
    need to be signed by parents or guardians..

16. Impose severe penalties on employers who have expertise in one Principle of Cookery.


17. The employer through any media should not be permitted to advertise for 2nd, 3rd and 4th year

     apprentices nor entice 1st year apprentices away from the committed original employer who   
     has done the hard yards, with the associated costs. Usually the young inexperienced 
    apprentice is then burnt out by the non-committed employer.

18. Enforce the ratio of apprentices to trained certified personnel within a commercial food

    preparation enterprise. A no qualified personnel –A no apprentice permitted policy. 

19. Wages will need to be enhanced if penalties rates are not offered or available. 20. Will the young person work at the weekends and public holidays without inducements such

    as now available especially if that loss of dollars meant less money to pay off a car loan, the 
    rent and social activities.

Further comments. Registered Training Organisation places and staffing must be geared towards increasing the throughput and maximisation of skill formation of apprentices. Full time fee-paying student places must not impinge on places or 2 facilities for apprentices. Nurtured training must be increased in industry and colleges, with the hope that the drop our rate will be reduced from the alleged 40% 50%. Industry and the bottom liners have to realise that their short sightness towards training is a self-inflicted wound especially when they will have to compete and pay even higher salaries and special conditions to secure personnel from an ever-decreasing pool of experienced staff.

To depend on recruiting from overseas is not the answer for most countries are also having problems with skill shortage borne out by the fact that Australian trained staff are in great demand in Europe, Hong Kong USA and beyond. Experience shows overseas-trained cooks and indeed other trades people have some difficulty with settling in, even when not exploited.

It is frustrating when you hear some of the comments and the actions of management and senior members of the kitchen personnel when discussing recruitment and training of apprentices.

Colleges can and should always fill any excess places and facilities with overseas fee-paying students but not at the expense of any apprenticeship program.

Overseas students are usually seeking Diploma studies for mid to senior level positions and not necessarily in Australian hands on cookery positions. It is possible unfortunately, that their intention is to stay the visa acceptable course only to gain permanent residence approval and then move into non-catering disciplines.

Skilling will have to take precedent over some other hospitality training for some considerable time. Otherwise, in the case of cooks, it could mean the dinning out public will have to pay higher prices as management increases menu item prices to cover the higher wage expenditures to remain profitable. Therein lays the danger of loss of clientele, closing of the enterprise and no need for mid level staff. Ponder the following.

Have listed R.T.O’s become money making business rather than skill-making repository? Is funding to Secondary School Hospitality Education being correctly maximised, administered and directed to correctly target the very serious year eleven/twelve students who are inclined towards a commercial cookery career.?

How long will it be before Registered Training Organisations start to poach students to replace the dropout places to increase or retain their completion percentage figures and funding?

There is a need for concerned persons in Management, in Training Establishments, of the Appropriate Authorities and in particular senior hands on personnel groups to come together with the view of organising or setting up a detailed non--glossed over career choice program for entrants into the commercial food production arena. That initiative to be delivered at interview or specific career information sessions geared towards would be apprentices on the life long attractions of being a member of the catering fraternity. It is important to spell out at that time the so-called disadvantages one will encounter whilst in training. For example the hours one has to spend outside what is considered a normal working day//week of 9 to 5 and 38 hours, especially when compared with some professions and trades.

The glamour viewed from T.V. programs might entice young people to seek a career in the industry but it will come as a great shock upon entering the indenture probation period to find the wages, the weekend work, working on public holidays, late night finishes, early morning starts, no penalty rates, the potential unpaid overtime, the so called “heat in the kitchen” and a myriad of other reasons why it was not the best career choice.

Could the apprentices who have dropped out since mid 2001 be approached and urged to give their reasons for their disillusionment or would the findings as in the report be of a similar nature. Are there any up to date records available since 2001?

Could the employers of the dropouts be approached for their views on the attrition rate? Are there any up to date records available?

Would a bonus at the completion of the three years of schooling of the indenture be of assistance in reducing the attritions or would it be at the end of the fourth year having taken the bonus they then depart the industry?

Would abolishing up front fees or reimbursement of fees in the third year be an incentive? Would the granting of vouchers or the banking of free further study within a five period be an incentive? E.G. Certificate IV or any course of hospitality / commercial catering.

Would the proposed introduction of a Diploma in Commercial Cookery as an alternative entice applicants? 3

Would it be a full time study of two years? Who would pay for the tuitions or would it be seen as a full fee for services course [neutral profit] with “no on the job” reinforcement. Alternatively, as in a Diploma styled sandwiched course work experience gained in term or semester breaks assuming casual relevant “on the job” kitchen positions would be offered by industry or arranged and monitored by the RTO’s with the potential of:

   “WHAM. I am not sure this was a good career choice, I cannot stand the heat in the kitchen attitude”                      
                    Still the potential of attrition with expenses to TAFE, Industry and Society.

At interview, or at the time spent with a career advisor with a background in commercial kitchen, explanations of the advantages and disadvantages must be set out. Otherwise when eventually arriving at “the coal face” with a perceived passion, that passion will soon dissipates during the apprenticeship probation period or in the first term or first semester period work experiences. Thus resulting in a very high attrition rate of 6 out of 6 as recently experienced during the first three months of the probation period.

The cost to the committed employer and the senior hands on personnel can soon develop into a negative approach by the committed when deciding to engage in apprenticeship training in the future.

      • There is, within the in-depth report, carried out prior to 2001 one hundred and seventy seven pages on this problem focusing on and giving the background to the skill shortage in Commercial Cookery, for the period 2001 to 2006.My criticisms of the report would be that the members involved were far remove from the coalface of a commercial kitchen, nor were any senior members of a brigade at the table. It was difficult to see any suggestions or any concepts for improving the passion and or renewing the lost passion. In the short term, there is a need for bending over backwards by the industry for their own long-term interest to overcome the scourge of the skill shortage. Is there an alternative?

Time –money –commitment-and a “willingness to assume the major responsibity” for retaining the young would be artisans in the field of commercial cookery must be the priority because of the time—the money and the commitment already embarked upon when involved in training for the benefit of the hospitality catering industry and society.

      • []
          Then go to “A Recipe for Change .The Future of Commercial Cookery in Australia”.                                        

Signatories Bennett. Steven. Director President of Australian Culinary Federation [Inc]- Victorian Chapter. Di Luca. Massimo. Executive Chef .President Les Toques Blanches [INC] Victoria. Dodgshun. Graham. Director. Author of Cookery for the Hospitality Industry 3rd Ed. Enconniere. Jean Francois .Chef Patron Bergerac Restaurant National President Academie Culinaire de France [INC] . Hill. George E. Chef-Patron. Retired Chef Instructor. Culinary Educational Consultant. Black Hat Chef. Lawes. Brian. Chef Lecturer. President Les Toques Blanches South Australia. Miller. OAM. John Mangan . Chevalier de L’Ordre Mérite Agricole [France], Curriculum Officer, Black Hat Chef.. Sweetman. AM. John. J Sweetman and Associates Pty Ltd. Uber.Bernd International Culinary Judge. Retired Chef Instructor.President L’Académie Culinaire de France [Inc]Victorian Chapter.Black Hat Chef Wright Peter. Executive Chef .National President Australian Culinary Federation.[Inc] . JohnMiller 21:54, 19 March 2012 (EST)