In March of this year, the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said there is an acute industry shortage with a need for “at least” 7,000 to 8,000 chefs.
WIth that in mind; Cork’s culinary future received a major boost yesterday with the opening of the Westside Further Education and Training Centre where chefs and other hospitality workers will be trained in Cork Education and Training Board’s new training facilities.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD yesterday officially opened the new Westside Centre hospitality training centre on Cork’s Model farm Road. It replaces an old facility demolished to make way for the Navigation Square office development on Albert Quay.
Speaking at the Westside Centre, the Tánaiste said: “People sometimes take Cork’s position as Ireland’s culinary capital for granted. The development of the new Westside Centre is crucial to Cork remaining at the forefront of the current culinary revolution in all parts of Ireland.
“Ireland’s restaurants and hotels need a stream of well trained, highly motivated young chefs coming into the industry. The commis chefs being trained at the Westside Centre are among the best in the business and will underpin the future of Ireland’s tourism industry for years to come.
“The fully fitted kitchens, dining room, training bar and bedrooms here at Westside are the most modern in the country, and provide the best quality environment in which to learn and gain new skills,” he added
Chief Executive of Cork ETB Denis Leamy said: “Providing world-class training for apprentices is part of Cork ETB’s DNA. Here at the Westside Further Education and Training Centre, we are building on the solid foundations of our predecessors in Fáilte Ireland and CERT.
“Since Cork ETB took on the responsibility of training apprentices for the hospitality industry in 2013 we have focussed on the training needs of the young apprentices and the requirements of Cork’s vibrant hotel, hospitality and restaurant industry.”
Mr. Leamy said that from the outset Cork ETB’s vision was to develop a multi-use facility to provide appropriate facilities for the delivery of a range of Further Education and Training (FET) programmes.
“A further requirement was that the facility needed to be capable of adaptation to meet emerging needs and requirements in a fast-paced industry where trends change, but the underlying need for well-trained apprentices remains a core requirement.”
Director of Further Education and Training, Cork ETB, John Fitzgibbons, said with the support of a significant €500,000 capital investment from SOLAS the Westside Centre yesterday provides customised facilities for the commis chef and hospitality programmes, and with the completion of a further kitchen facility in early 2020, for Culinary Skills programmes at QQI levels 5 and 6 with the potential to progress to degree level at Institutes of Technology.
“The development of this facility, and others like it in the future, will allow Cork Education and Training Board to provide learners, employers and industries with the education and training options they require,” Mr. Fitzgibbons added.