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Source: NorthTec

A partnership between NorthTec and the Restaurant Association is set to increase the number of skilled staff working for the region’s hospitality businesses as the industry recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

The two organisations this week launched Te Tupu Tahi – an in-work training scheme for hospitality staff already working for employers in Northland Te Tai Tokerau – with a signing event held at NorthTec’s Bank Street City Centre Campus in Whangārei.

It was attended by hospitality industry representatives as well as NorthTec staff and hospitality tutors; Restaurant Association representatives; Whangārei District Mayor, Sheryl Mai; NorthChamber CEO, Steve Smith, and representatives from Northland Inc.

All trainees taking part in Te Tupu Tahi, meaning “to grow together as one” or “bring together” will have a tailored learning plan based on their individual needs. The trainees will be known as māhuri, meaning “saplings”.

An agreement to work in partnership on Te Tupu Tahi was signed by Tony Adcock, Chair of the Restaurant Association Education Trust, and Lisette Buckle, NorthTec’s Pathway Manager for Service Industries.

Tony Adcock said the number one challenge for the hospitality industry is to find and retain skilled staff. He told the audience: “It has been the dream of the Restaurant Association Education Trust for several years to create opportunities for those interested in cookery but already in the kitchen, and for them to gain qualifications while they’re on the job.

“We’re proud to be in partnership with NorthTec to deliver this programme, the first of its kind,  administered and driven by industry to meet the needs of its members.”

Rick Kinnaird, co-owner of the Duke of Marlborough restaurant in Russell and Charlotte’s Kitchen in Paihia, said: “The important thing for us is the collaboration across industry and education. We shouldn’t underestimate the value of a formal qualification – it gives people confidence and self-worth, so having this in our armoury is so important at a time when we’ve got massive gaps.”

Lisette Buckle thanked the attendees and the NorthTec students and tutors who prepared and served the drinks and canapés for the event. She told the group: “This is about thriving together while acknowledging individuality in our māhuri. We will research and recognise what each person has done already, and develop learning plans for you. We want to give the māhuri extra support and give them training that allows them to broaden their skills.”

She said the trainees would get the opportunity to learn new skills from NorthTec’s chef tutors, and also become part of a community of learning with others, underpinned by principles of sustainability and Mātauranga Māori.

Speaking after the event, Marisa Bidois, Chief Executive of the Restaurant Association, said: “As we begin our recovery from what has been a very hard couple of years, it’s important to give people the opportunity to grow in their jobs. We will be working with trainees and business owners to support them through their training. We know that it’s very hard to bring on trainees when you’re really busy, so now we’re going to help with that.”