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Junior Chefs Academy: a success story

29 June 2006

I write in response to your recent excellent feature on the success of the Junior Chefs Academy (JCA), (Caterer, 11 May, page 34), and subsequent letters (Caterer, 15 June, page 20).

Many colleges run programmes for young people and initiatives have been in existence for many years, all helping to increase the number of people entering the industry.

The JCA shows how successful industry can work with education towards a common goal. People 1st has an enormous responsibility to support the industry. What better initiatives to support than those which are seen to work and to convert large numbers of young people on to hospitality college courses.

This industry is notorious for not getting behind potentially successful initiatives which are there to benefit everyone. Employers and companies should agree to support initiatives which contribute to the greater good of the industry.

I've just returned from Ireland, where the Irish Tourist Board, together with a government senator as well as leading industry suppliers, have joined together to roll the JCA across the country. If the industry were to broadly adopt the concept that so many colleges and companies support - running cookery programmes for young people - the weight of support would transfer into successful national funding.

I'm proud to have developed the JCA with my former colleagues at Compass, and fellow sponsors at Whitbread. It has won many awards and gained huge backing from the press, media and celebrity chefs. With a conversion rate of JCA students on to further education courses close to 70%, this is a big step in the right direction.

This model, together with the fantastic work carried out at many other colleges, can become an integral part of a foundation course for any budding chef or strengthen the quality of GCSE learning. While so many current projects are successful, ultimately People 1st will be more likely to draw government funding if the industry can demonstrate its ability to work together, to match funds where the greater good is at stake.

David Mulcahy
Craft & development director, Sodexho UK & Ireland

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