Celebrity chef Marco believes apprenticeships cater for the 'real world'

26th February 2010 at 00:00
For a former apprentice who admits that his own training nearly "broke" him, chef Marco Pierre White is a remarkably passionate advocate of apprenticeships

In fact, it is precisely because good apprenticeships deliver a "real world" challenge to young trainees that the Hell's Kitchen star is featuring in a new viral advertising campaign for the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS).

But the triple-starred Michelin chef, who left school at 16 with no qualifications to start an apprenticeship in a hotel kitchen, is not so enamoured with full-time college catering courses.

"Some people go to college for three years and leave thinking they are chefs, but they are not prepared for the real world," he said at the campaign launch at his London restaurant Wheeler's of St James's this week. "I was working 14-hour shifts as an apprentice. It nearly broke me. But by working this way I was seeing things for what they really were. I am a great believer in apprenticeships, I think they are the future."

Despite being asked to leave two catering courses run by Harrogate College and Westminster College (now Westminster Kingsway), Mr White does see a role for colleges. "Day release to college is important, but they cannot provide a realistic working environment," he said.

Fifteen catering apprentices aged 18 to 24 from around the country met Mr White at the event which kicked off an NAS campaign to promote 5,000 Apprenticeship Grants for Employers for 16- and 17- year-olds, each worth pound;2,500.

The campaign sees Mr White star in three films showing how his life might have turned out without his apprenticeship, including one of him working in a burger van.

- www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

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