The Melbourne Polytechnic hospitality program has been running since the start of 2013 and by all accounts goes from strength to strength.
The whole thing grew out of conversations between Clive Enos, the Business Development Coordinator at Melbourne Polytechnic , and Workplace Learning Coordinators that started in late 2012. Because a lot of similar hospitality programs were closing at the time, Melbourne Polytechnic tailored a Cert III in Catering Operations into a viable and attractive SBAT program. This involves Melbourne Polytechnic as both employer and trainer, offering paid work at their Collingwood and Preston restaurants and cafes combined with Cert III accredited training run by industry experts. In describing the course, Clive Enos stated: “The certificate III in catering operations offers a look at both sides of the fence from preparing food and drinks to serving food and drinks. From here students will have a sound basis to make a decision on which area they would like to work in.”
The promotion of the program was taken up by Workplace Learning Coordinators, and was aided and abetted by staff from Melbourne Polytechnic who presented the program to groups of students in schools and helped to host information nights for students and their families that included tours of the TAFE campuses.
The first group of students commenced in March 2013, amongst them students from, among others, Epping and Thomastown Secondary, as well as those from Montmorency and Bundoora Secondary. Modifying the program as it went along, NMIT set about preparing for a mid year intake and marketed extensively through the WLC networks and via VET clusters to get the message out. They also involved the organisation Northstar, based in Epping, who offer support and assistance for students with learning difficulties and who have been able to offer ongoing support to students throughout the program and assist their schools through the process of application and induction. The result has been an even stronger uptake, focusing more on the Preston campus and highly regarded St Georges Restaurant as the workplace and training venue making it even more attractive to students from the North. This allowed students from other schools such as Whittlesea Secondary, CLC, Marcelin, the Diamond Valley Learning Centre and Northlands Secondary to become involved.
Two participants who joined the program at the mid year point, both from Whittlesea Secondary College, are Halil Turkmen and Steph Bailey. They were presented as ideal ambassadors for the program because of the enthusiasm with which they’ve taken to it. Both year 12 students, they had slightly varied reasons for getting involved in the first place, Steph because she had already had some exposure to the industry and loved the customer contact and Halil because he had decided that he “wants to be a chef” and one day run his own business. They have both been hugely impressed at how the program has been run, Halil commenting that it was “better” than he thought it would be and Steph raving about how good the team is and how they foster a great spirit, “we all work together and help each other.” They told me that the program is structured so that students are constantly rotated through different classroom theory units and different areas of work in the restaurants, such as bartending, table waiting, kitchen work, food safety, assisting the chefs, gaining RSA certification etc so that there is never time to get bored. The other great incentive of course is that, as Halil says, “you get paid to be here, it makes you want to go…” Because they commenced mid year neither student will officially complete the Cert III at the end of this year, but both have agreed with their school to continue into a special “year 13” program next year with a modified VCAL, mainly so they can continue with what they’ve found to be an SBAT that more than meets their needs. They are now looking forward to life after the SBAT, with Steph keen to “get a career in hospitality… to pass and be proud of accomplishing something” and Halil still focused on getting his own place one day and maybe “travelling, using the skills I’ve gained.”
Melbourne Polytechnic are proud of the results they’ve achieved with these and the other, more than 20, students who have gone through the first year of this SBAT. Tim Haronga, a stalwart of Melbourne Polytechnic 's training facility, praised the two by saying that Halil has “great presence” amongst the team and that Steph has “all the right ingredients” to further develop and achieve success in the industry.
Plans are already well advanced to continue this into 2014 with presentations being arranged, promotional material at the printers and industry nights being finalised. The program promises to be bigger and better than ever next year and, if Steph and Halil are any guides, will offer a fantastic opportunity to develop career skills, open up doors and create pathways. Clive Enos talks openly about the opportunity this affords Melbourne Polytechnic to develop a solid pool of talent which they can then confidently present to the many industry clients they train for, including five star restaurants and household name hospitality venues, as potential full time apprentices and future stars. In talking about the program, Clive reflects: “Rewarding! It is the best way I could describe how it is, being able to award a student that has completed a nationally recognised qualification the opportunity to move on and create a career in the hospitality and catering industry that could last a life time.”
Melbourne Polytechnic also has plans to also offer opportunities to some of the students to gain outside events and catering experience, including at the upcoming Spring Racing carnival, to further enhance their skills. There is also the possibility that some of the students could continue on to a full time apprenticeship working with Melbourne Polytechnic itself as the TAFE continues to establish itself as a lynchpin hospitality training provider. As Clive Enos says, “Melbourne Polytechnic care about the level of training given from start to finish; being able to provide students with skills prior to leaving school is a good step forward into the world of employment.”
All proof once again of the power of partnerships as this program draws together RTO’s, employers, Group Training providers, support agencies such as Northstar and, critically, workplace learning coordinators who provide that vital link through to schools and young people.
Halil Turkmen and Stephanie Bailey
Year 12 students from Whittlesea Secondary College at St Georges Restaurant, Melbourne Polytechnic Preston campus
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Last Modified: 7th November 2014