Increasing Opportunities Through Culinary Course
Not-for-profit organisation MTC Australia, in partnership with the National Indigenous Culinary Institute (NICI), is helping to increase employment opportunities for young Aboriginal jobseekers.
When 26-year-old Scott Johnson came to MTC Australia, he was unemployed and struggling to find work.
Scott said his main challenge has been securing sustainable employment.
"It can be hard when employers aren't willing to give you a chance because you don't have experience or a driver's license," said Scott.
"When my Employment Consultant told me about the National Indigenous Culinary Institute program, I jumped at the chance.”
The three-week course, based at Surry Hills, gives MTC Australia clients the opportunity to sample the culinary profession as a career.
Upon completion, participants commence an exciting three-year traineeship with some of Australia's top restaurants and restaurateurs.
Indigenous Engagement Specialist Glen Duncan said the NICI program is a great opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who want to enter the hospitality industry.
“Through this initiative, our young people can build strong foundations in culinary that will see them become qualified and accredited chefs in some of the highest profile restaurants in Australia.
“The program has many benefits for participants, including comprehensive and interactive training, mentoring and support both on and off the job, as well as guidance from both NICI and MTC Australia staff.
“Most importantly, we are able to guarantee employment for our clients at the conclusion of the training course.”
Scott, now a trainee at Fratelli Fresh, said the experience has changed his life.
"I'm working, I have a full time job. I have money in my pocket every week and no longer have to live day to day.
"My favourite aspect of the NICI program is being around other Indigenous people.
"We all support one another and no matter what happens we help each other out the best we can, whether we're working in the kitchen or in general.
"I have a great boss and I work with a good bunch of guys. I can't ask for much for that that.
"I recommend the NICI program to everybody – it's the best program ever.
"Where I am today, I'm actually happy and I wouldn't change a thing."
NICI is an industry inspired and initiated program that combines on-the-job training with a contemporary industry designed qualification to create highly skilled Indigenous chefs.
Through mentorship by a Culinary Guardian, Indigenous trainees are employed for 3 years with a guarantee of ongoing employment at either their host restaurant, Ayers Rock Resort or with another participating restaurant. Trainees are mentored by a different Culinary Guardian each year and work in 3 different restaurants over the course of the program.
The William Angliss Institute, Australia's leading hospitality trainer, has been engaged to develop and accredit the training course, and the program itself has been custom designed by the Culinary Guardians such as Neil Perry, Perry, Guillaume Brahimi, Michael McMahon, Jill Dupleix, Terry Durack and Barry McDonald to feature the key skill sets which are valued and required by top-level restaurants.