A group of eight service users from Mansfield’s Jobcentre Plus have learnt new skills in catering and hospitality at West Nottinghamshire College in the town, helping them to look towards future new career opportunities.
Across a five-week period, for two days per week, six budding chefs have undertook the NVQ level one certificate in food production and cookery and two front-of-house hopefuls have completed the NVQ level one certificate in food and drink service.
Throughout the duration of the courses, the current students have worked through fundamental catering and hospitality units such as health and safety, food safety, dough cookery, working with meat, fish, poultry and vegetables, and general kitchen skills, as well as customer service, bar work and learning how to handle cash.
This is the first time Jobcentre Plus has worked with the college on enrolling individuals on a short programme.
And from this initial success it is hoped to repeat the programme again.
Neil Wilson, chef tutor at the college, said: “To say most of the students have not had any experience in the industry before, they have performed very well.
“Their enthusiasm was five star and they’ve all gained a lot of confidence over these last few weeks and fitted in brilliantly with current students.”
The programme ended with a finale hot food buffet cooked and served by the food production and cookery students in the college’s Relish diner.
This included celebratory mocktails mixed and served by the food and drink service learners.
Melanie Milligan, 59, was one of the students on the food production programme.
She said: “I’d been attending the Job Centre with my husband over the last three months as he’d been made redundant.
“They asked me if I’d be interested in the short course at West Nottinghamshire College, as I’d worked in restaurants in Canada over the past 25 years.
“I’d done everything but actually cook in restaurants.
“I’ve absolutely loved it.
“It’s taught me so much and I’ve been using the skills at home.
“Hopefully this will help me in a new job search.
“If I don’t get a job but my husband does, I’ll use the opportunity to do more studying in this area.”