Dubai: Young chefs in the UAE hospitality industry will now get a chance to apply for an annual scholarship programme launched by the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA).
The Dh1 million continuing education award was announced on Sunday during a press conference in Knowledge Village by the Emirates Culinary Guild (ECG), World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) and City and Guilds London.
The aim of the initiative is to train and certify talented but financially constrained young chefs in the UAE hospitality industry and to also create future opportunities for these chefs as the hospitality industry keeps growing.
With the increase in tourism and new projects, the demand for a skilled workforce to support the region’s rapid economic expansion has never been greater, explained Sunjeh Raja, director and CEO of ICCA, at the press conference.
“With Dubai Expo 2020 rapidly approaching, the UAE tourism and hospitality sector will experience massive growth, with an influx of 139 new establishments, including 91 hotels and 48 hotel apartments to cater to the 25 million expected visitors. We need to show these visitors that our offering is world-class and this is where training is paramount to make the difference,” he said.
Having carried the vision of launching such an initiative for many years, Raja added that the programme will change the lives of 30 underprivileged chefs a year, “while simultaneously boosting the industry with fresh, skilled resources and thereby helping take things to the next level”.
The selected candidates will be put through the intensive ICCA’s International Chef Training Programme, a City & Guilds London’s accredited international vocational qualification, along with other industry skills proficiency training, through a 52-week release programme.
During the programme, prominent chefs and industry experts will regularly conduct training sessions with the 30 young chefs, passing on their skills and knowledge to them.
Dr Ayoub Kazim, managing director of Dubai Knowledge Village (DKV), said that the need to bridge the gap between education and industry is a key focus for DKV and Dubai Academic City.
“The ICCA is a prime example of where this connection is being successfully made. The Middle East tourism and hospitality sector will require 1.5 million employees by 2017 to sustain the radically expanding hotel industry, which means there’s a need for vocational training in the UAE across the hospitality industry and the development of culinary workforce,” he said.
Chef Gissur Gudmundsson, president of WACS, said he was very proud that WACS had made a decision to support the initiative and that WACs is happy to give the international certification to the 30 chefs.
“We will proudly be giving away the World Chefs certification under the World Chefs Global Certification Scheme, but they will first have to go through a test of course. We also hope we could do much of this around the world because this is a great step forward that pushes young people to go to culinary school,” he said.
A panel of selected judges will select the candidates based on a set criterion.
How candidates will be selected
Applicants need to be young chefs in the UAE hospitality industry
Candidates must be talented with a potential to grow but financially underprivileged
They must have three years or more work experience
They must have good communication skills and must be able to read, write and speak English
Candidates must have written recommendations and supporting credentials
They must clear the personal interview with the selection panel for final selections