ESS has won the IWFM Social Value Award for the Junior Chef Academy (JCA) delivered in its Defence, Marine & Aerospace sector. The ten-week cookery course for local school students aims to:
- Recognise and teach cooking as an essential life skill.
- Encourage an interest in, and engagement with, food at an early age.
- Educate and encourage young people to consider careers in hospitality.
- Enable ESS teams to engage with local communities.
The JCA is delivered free of charge as an after-school club. Ten 1.5-hour sessions teach students a variety of fundamental cookery skills, how to create dishes with a range of different ingredients and, of course, how to wash up! Attendees are invited to attend a course graduation at an ESS site where they cook for parents, teachers and the ESS team and are presented with a certificate and gift bag to take away.
To date, the ESS Defence team has worked with 11 schools and delivered the course to 90 young people, including students in mainstream education as well as those with special educational needs, and behavioural and attendance issues.
Feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of attendees from a recent course reporting that they enjoyed participating and 100% of parents reporting that their children learned new skills and had cooked or helped to cook meals since.
Enthusiastic and promising students are invited to complete work experience with ESS culinary teams where they learn all aspects of foodservice, including different sections in the kitchen and front of house skills. As a result, six young people have joined ESS as apprentices.
Jacob Banting from the first intake has now achieved his Level-2 apprenticeship, worked at the Brit Awards, medalled in the skills class at International Salon Culinaire 2023 and finished in the top eight at the prestigious Compass Apprentice Chef of the Year competition.
The JCA was developed by the Compass Apprenticeships Team and is available to all areas of the business. Courses have previously been delivered to schools in Stoke, Leicester, Wolverhampton and Newport.
The programme aligns with Compass Group UK & Ireland’s ‘Social Value Promise’ which has committed to enhancing opportunities for a million people by 2030. The Social Value delivered by the scheme last year, as calculated through the National TOMS Proxy Calculator, is £53,896.14. The initiative also supports ESS to promote careers in the hospitality industry which is currently experiencing an unprecedented skills shortage.
Stuart Palmer, General Manager – ESS Defence, Marine & Aerospace, commented:
“My team and I thoroughly enjoy supporting young people through the Junior Chef Academy. We have seen students improve their cookery skills and also their confidence over the ten weeks of the course. The graduations are a brilliant celebration for everyone involved and provide a great opportunity to speak to the schoolchildren and their parents about the benefits of the academy. It’s something that I’m honoured to be a part of.”
Bob Gray, Managing Director – ESS Defence, Marine & Aerospace, added:
“I’m exceptionally proud of the way our team have embraced the Junior Chef Academy and delivered it in the communities around some of our Defence sites. The programme has the potential to instil a lifelong interest in food and we’ve heard from graduates that the positive impacts are being felt by their whole families. On top of this, it’s wonderful to see young people who have completed the course starting out on exciting careers in our business. I’m passionate about extending the reach and impact that this initiative is having and delighted that its power to initiate change has been recognised by the IWFM.”