YARMOUTH - The change is noticeable when clients in the Restaurantworx program dress for work.
“As soon as they put on that chef’s uniform they get taller, broader, prouder,” said Ann Boyd, project manager for Futureworx.
This was the second time for the program in the Yarmouth area. Clients had a chance to show their new skills at a brunch for partnering employers and guests on March 20 at their learning site, the Mariners Centre.
Personal development instructor Paulette Atwood and chef/instructor Sebastien Milot beamed from the sidelines as their students served a mixed green salad with strawberry vinaigrette and goat cheese;
Italian wedding soup and Shakshuka, a North African dish, finishing with pancake cupcakes with butter maple cream and candied bacon; triple chocolate scones with coffee glaze, and lemon butter cream-filled blueberry puff pastries.
During the 20-week program, which includes two on-the-job experience training sessions, students learn food safety, tools of the trade, cooking principles and methods, along with front-of-house procedures and other skills. Close to a dozen certificates are presented upon successful completion of the course.
The program is fully subsidized by the province of Nova Scotia and there is no cost to participants or employers.
As part of the program design a bi-weekly stipend of $75 per student (based on attendance) is provided to help them with travel to the class.
The funding stream for the program is specific for participants who are unemployed or underemployed, over the age of 16.
Currently there are no Futureworx programs in the surrounding areas of Yarmouth. The next closest program would be in Bridgewater and that is a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) program, specific to working in health care.
Generally, a project is brought into an area that has both job seekers (who require upskilling in technical, essential and employability skills) and employers who are trying to fill multiple positions.
The organization is always interested in new employer partnerships and would encourage any employers wanting to be involved to contact them directly.
“The more employers involved, the more employment opportunities for the participants,” said Boyd.
The next offering of the Restaurantworx program in Yarmouth will be based on availability of provincial funding, the employers’ needs and job seekers’ interests.
“If all those things align, we hope to offer it again next November,” said Boyd.
Jeremy Watkins manages the Keepers Kitchen at the Cape Forchu Lighthouse. Last year was his first in the culinary field and he felt he was lacking in experience, as he was dealing with a heavy workload in the kitchen and many customers.
He also wanted to obtain some basic certification - first aid and WHMIS food handlers, for instance. When he saw the Restaurantworx course offered, he was excited to sign up.
“My expectations weren’t high but once we started doing the classes with Paulette Attwood and our other instructors I came to find that it was a real educational experience,” he said.
“Above all that, the exposure to a chef that has the expertise of chef Sebastien Milot has been very helpful in giving me more skills in the kitchen.”
Watkins says he would recommend the program to anyone wanting to enter the culinary field.
“I’m very thankful to Restaurantworx for allowing me into the program this year,” he said.
Although the clients won’t be graduating until April 24, some have already been hired by The Meadows, Jungle Jim, Bread and Olives, and SIP Café.
How to ApplyThe best way to apply to the program is through a case manager at the Nova Scotia Works Centre in Yarmouth (formally Southwest Employment Services) or email Ann Boyd