A new initiative launched by Restaurant and Catering Australia is aimed at improving apprenticeship completion rates in the hospitality industry, allowing apprentices to be benchmarked on competency rather than time.

The $7 million Skills Pathways project was co-funded by the Australian government's Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships iniative, and has teamed up with eight registered training organisations around the country including Northern Sydney Institute (TAFE NSW), Tropical North Queensland TAFE and William Angliss Institute, Victoria.

With only 39.2 percent of Australian apprentices in the food industry going on to gain full qualification (according to the National Centre for Vocational Educational Research 2005-09), Restaurant and Catering Australia's CEO, John Hart, said the new Skills Pathway project will help both apprentices and supervisors to turn this statistic around.

"The Skills Pathways project is a 360 degree approach to improve retention rates with four new competency based progression pathways, which are available to prospective apprentices, apprentices, chefs and supervisors," he said.

There are 1,250 positions available across the four Pathways, which are:

  • Certificate III in Commercial Cookery apprenticeships
  • Certificate III in Hospitality (front of house) vacancies
  • Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery positions
  • Formal training in supervision pathways.

The initiative will be supported by the Discover Hospitality website, which is the first online recruitment platform where users can store their electronic CV and supporting material in a free and secure Skills Passport.

Employers will also be able to track an employee's training and achievements via the website.

Acclaimed Sydney chef, Dan Hong, is the Skills Pathways ambassador, and said he hopes the initiative's ability to fast-track apprenticeship completions by benchmarking participants on competencies rather than time will help ease the industry's skills shortage.

"Over the 13 years that I've been [cheffing] I've noticed that there has been a real lack of apprentices in the workplace," he said at the Skills Pathways launch this morning.

In his brigade of 40 staff at popular Merivale venue, Mr Wong, Hong has just two apprentices.

"Hopefully this means there'll be more passionate chefs out there for me to hire."

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