Find Career In Catering Business

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DEBBIE Baxter left school feeling like a complete failure.

“The teachers were constantly telling me I couldn’t get a job because I was so hopeless. The awful thing is, I really believed them,” she says.

“I couldn’t write and struggled with everything. It wasn’t until I was leaving school that they realised I was dyslexic. By then it felt too late.”

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There was one thing Debbbie, 44, from London, had enjoyed at school – home economics – so she decided to try and get a catering job.

“I started working in staff canteens and the like, but I always felt I couldn’t get on because I lacked the qualifications and training needed.

“It was like no one around thought I was worth it.”

But then, two years ago, Debbie got a job as a dinner lady and her life changed.

She says: “My school kitchen supervisor suggested I do an NVQ – a multi-skilled ­hospitality NVQ Level 2.

“At first I was completely shocked and convinced it was way beyond me.

“I kept saying there was no way I could do it. Even the idea of having to do coursework frightened me.

“I said no, but thankfully they were patient enough to explain over and over again that I wouldn’t be on my own and would get all the support I needed.”

With on-the-job training and outside assessors coming in to check her work, Debbie realised that she might be able to get her first qualification.

“At work we needed to make the kitchen more efficient, which meant I needed do things on my own more often. It turned out the NVQ really helped me. I learned a lot about ­processes and preparing simple dishes, so I knew what to do in an efficient way.”

Whenever she needed help, a tutor from Hospitalist Industry Training (www.hittraining.co.uk) was on hand to help her out.

“I realised that not only could I do my job better, I could also ­communicate better with colleagues. I had more confidence than ever.

“I took on extra tasks without being asked and started to think I was a valued member of the team – the first time I had felt that way in 30 years.”

Debbie’s new-found confidence has had a profound effect on the rest of her life.

“Because my tutor took the time to explain the questions in the coursework to me, my ability to read and understand things improved.

“This has made dealing with other business in my life a whole lot easier.”

Debbie was even more delighted when she realised the NVQ would boost her chances of getting other jobs. And it was not long before she did just that.

“Now I work at a homeless shelter in a job that I enjoy even more, and my new qualification helped me get it. I have the confidence to do whatever I need, and that makes me very employable.

“Who knows what I’ll end up doing in future? I feel excited and hopeful.”

WHERE TO FIND TRAINING

Check out learndirect (www.learndirect.co.uk), which offers college-based and online courses in subjects such as maths, English and IT.

Also visit www.direct.gov.uk. Its Education and Learning section has lots of information on improving your employability, whether you’ve already got a job or are still looking.

There is also advice on the kinds of financial help for which you may qualify, such as the Fifty Plus In-work Training Grant, which helps with training costs if you are unemployed.

There is also information on help with childcare, career development loans and adult learning grants.

Apprenticeships, now available for all ages – not just school leavers, are another useful way of training for a new job. You can find out more about the scheme at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

If you have been out of work for some time, Reed in Partnership (www.reedinpartnership.co.uk) and Working Links (www.workinglinks.co.uk) have advisers who can point you in the right direction for vacancies and training.

SECTORS

Each industry sector has its own training options. HIT, for instance, works as the hospitality and catering industry’s specialist vocational training provider. Its clients include nursing homes, hotels, museums, restaurants, pubs, schools and many, many more.

“Whether you’re the manager of a company wanting to secure its fortunes, or a talented individual wanting to develop a satisfying career, training is the key to your future,” says national marketing manager Chris Rose.

For those interested in becoming ­electricians or plumbers, New Career Skills (www.newcareerskills.co.uk), which ­specialises in helping older people who want to change jobs, should be your first port of call.

JOB CLUBS

More and more organisations are coming together under one roof, much like careers fairs for students, to provide unemployed people with a place to meet and exchange skills, find opportunities, make contacts, share experiences and receive support to help them get work.

You can get help with writing CVs and interview techniques, as well as tips on where to find the training that will help you get the job of your dreams.

They are run by voluntary sector organisations, community groups, local authorities and businesses, and can be set up anywhere in the country, including in areas with high unemployment.

Find out about the clubs at your Jobcentre Plus or from www.direct.gov.uk/employment.

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