The first colleges to be accredited to deliver the new Professional Cookery Diploma are to be revealed tonight at an event in Northamptonshire.
At the Professional Association for Catering Excellence (Pace) conference dinner at Whittlebury Hall in Towcester, tonight, National Skills Academy for Hospitality chief executive David McHattie will reveal the first colleges to be recognised for their excellence in delivering the new diploma.
The year-long diploma is one of the new Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) introduced to replace the defunct City & Guilds 706.
It has been widely trailed as a way of addressing the sector's chronic skills crisis and has been in development at several colleges since 2006.
The diploma and colleges are not, however, without their critics, with the general standard of education receiving a bashing earlier this month from Gordon Ramsay, while John Williams, executive chef at the Ritz in London, attacked the quality of VRQs.
The UK-based Association Culinaire Française, whose members are drawn from some of the country's leading catering colleges, has also now gone on record questioning whether VRQs will deliver the skills required in commercial kitchens (see Letters in Caterer this week).
However, McHattie said he was confident the diploma was thorough and robust, and said picking out those colleges delivering it to the standard required was "exactly why the academy is here".
"Not everyone can be excellent but we'll be announcing the first four that are," McHattie told Caterersearch.
The Pace conference marks the next stage in the National Skills Academy, which aims to highlight to employers, employees and parents the good work being done in the hospitality sector. For more see our hospitality skills round-up>>
By Chris Druce
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