TAFE SA is working to fill a gap in skilled chefs in the aged care industry by offering tailored cookery training that focuses on meeting the nutritional needs of older Australians in care.
TAFE SA has partnered with food distributor Bidfood, industry recruitment and Group Training Organisation Maxima and South Australian aged care provider Southern Cross Care to implement a staff recruitment and training drive.
Bidfood is funding 15 TAFE SA students to complete a Certificate II in Kitchen Operations with a specific focus to working in aged care facilities.
The group starts its intensive eight-week course on Monday 6 March at the TAFE SA Regency Campus. The training includes work placement at Southern Cross Care facilities at West Beach, Buckland’s, Lourdes Valley and Phillip Kennedy Centre.
Selected students will then be offered jobs as commercial cookery apprentices with Southern Cross Care, employed by Maxima and training with TAFE SA to become qualified chefs.
TAFE SA principal cookery lecturer Paul Herbig said the aged care industry now has a clientele that expects high-quality, well-presented meals but was facing challenges in attracting and retaining qualified chefs.
“Older Australians are so much more aware these days of ensuring they get the right balance of nutritional, healthy food,” he said.
“This specialised course focuses on preparing a skilled workforce to meet these expectations by teaching how to present food in a range of styles and textures to suit the varying needs of clients. In learning this, apprentices can be better prepared for the challenges that lay ahead working in the aged care industry.
Eve Andrews, 21, from Fullerton said she was happy using the aged care sector to kickstart her commercial cookery career.
“The aged care industry looks like a very diverse industry to work in with a lot of scope for learning,” she said. “It will be a great start to my career especially with the focus on work/life balance - it is very exciting and I’m ready to go.”
Bidfood’s National Manager, Healthcare, Daniel Desteno said Bidfood was proud to fund the pilot program.
“This training initiative is about opening up more job opportunities in the Aged Care industry, in response to the burgeoning requirements placed on the sector as a result of an ageing population,” Mr Desteno said.
“In particular, it is important that we can offer the necessary assistance to providers within this specialist area, in an effort to accommodate the growing expectations of older Australians.”
Bidfood is Australia’s leading distributor to the Foodservice Industry with divisions across foodservice, fresh produce and meat. With a wide ranging product offering, local focus and expertise across industry sectors including health and aged care, Bidfood is well placed to handle customer needs.
Southern Cross Care provides employment opportunities for more than 2000 South Australians and is supported by over 500 volunteers. Southern Cross Care was established as a not-for-profit organisation in 1968. Its focus has always been on helping people to age healthily, maintain their independence, stay informed, and, vitally, keep connected with family and friends.