A hospitality and catering centre in London, which offers students the chance to work in a new restaurant while studying for a qualification, has opened in a bid to help bridge the skills gap in the run-up to the Olympics.
The London Development Agency (LDA) spent £800,000 to fund the London City Hospitality centre which officially opened last night (30 March).
The centre, which is housed within Hackney Community College, comprises 20 stainless steel work-stations modelled on the environment of a modern commercial kitchen. Students can study NVQ based courses in professional cookery, customer service, bar, food and drink, hospitality and leadership and management.
The ground floor of the centre features a restaurant, ‘Open Kitchen Bar & Restaurant' which will be run by students, which enables them to gain practical experience.
Geoff Newton, director for Olympic Opportunities at the LDA said that hospitality and catering was a growth industry that could provide "opportunities" during a downturn.
He said: "There's an enormous demand for suitably qualified people from the hospitality and catering industry, especially in the run up to 2012 the practical experience that can be gained in this restaurant are to die for- students can have the full range of experience on site.
"The centre is on the doorstep to the 2012 Games and we want to ensure that there is a lasting Olympic legacy by helping people to gain the right skills now."
Celebrity chef Paul Rankin spent a day with the students and said the centre had "everything for the hospitality industry to get the trained and qualified staff it so urgently needs to thrive."
The centre aims to run 600 courses in the run up to the 2012 Games with an annual capacity of 200 students.
Look out for our exclusive video from the college launch on Caterersearch soon.
By Gemma Sharkey
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