Andrew Caulfield works at the Beachwood Café as part of his training in the Employment Transitions Kitchen Assistant program. The next intake for the program begins in Campbell River in January. Photo courtesy NIC

NIC’s Kitchen Assistant program returns for year two at Campbell River campus

Students spend 15 weeks completing employability coursework and certifications

NIC’s Employment Transition Kitchen Assistant program is returning to the Campbell River campus after a successful start last January.

The program’s students spend 15 weeks completing employability coursework and certifications, including WHMIS and FoodSafe. They then move into the NIC teaching kitchen to complete six weeks with Chef Kathy Ngo-Gorst, before beginning a month-long practicum where they hone their skills in local kitchens and eateries.

“The support from local businesses is amazing and mutually beneficial,” says Kathy O’Donnell, chair of the Department of Accessible Learning Programs.

According to local executive chef Daniel Dycke from SoCal Restaurant, the restaurant industry has a real need for trained and invested entry level staff.

“I’ve seen first hand how diversity can create a strong team,” Dycke says. “It’s been a rewarding experience to work with the students in the Kitchen Assistant program and I look forward to doing so again.”

A work study assistant from NIC works with both employers and students to troubleshoot or suggest accommodations that can make the placement even more successful. The accommodations support employers to create an inclusive workplace, and can be as simple as implementing a checklist or pictorial instructions.

Several graduating students have been hired following their practicums. Each student has gained confidence, both in the workplace and their daily lives, O’Donnell says.

“NIC’s Accessible Learning programs prepare students for work in the food service industry and there’s also an Employment Transitions Program that places students in work experience practicums in a wide range of industries,” she says.

NIC thanks all the hosting employers from last year, including Thrifty Foods, Real Canadian Superstore, Grey Dog Diner, Cedar St. Eats, Fifty Parallel Tap and Grill, White Spot Restaurants, Ricky’s Restaurants, Beachwood Café, local seniors’ centres and New Horizons Retirement Home. Local business interested in exploring how they can support and benefit from a diverse workforce can contact Talia Beltgens at Talia.Beltgens@nic.bc.ca.

Applications are open now. Students interested in participating in the program can contact Kathy O’Donnell at kathy.odonnell@nic.bc.ca or 250-923-9774.

Learn more about the Employment Transition Kitchen Assistant Program by visiting www.nic.bc.ca/accessible-learning.