Care homes are being encouraged to offer work experience to school pupils in a bid to attract them into a career in care catering.

The nation’s older population is in growth and, as a result, so is the care market so showcasing the industry in a positive light is hugely important.

“Attracting new talent to the care sector is an important issue and one that the NACC has championed for a long time,” says Neel
Radia, national chair, National Association of Care Catering (NACC).

“We need to ensure that we have an ongoing supply of qualified, experienced and dedicated care catering professionals to meet this growth and guarantee continued excellence.”

Neel believes apprenticeships are a fantastic platform to train and mentor chefs, and the NACC encourages its members and the wider care sectorto get involved. He continues:

“Working in the care sector is incredibly rewarding, and through apprenticeships young people can experience the opportunities that a career in a care environment can offer. Care chefs are very talented professionals who have great technical skills and also fantastic knowledge in many specialist areas, including nutrition and the specific and complex dietary needs of older people, such as dysphagia, dementia and reduced appetites. This is reflected in the specialised qualification that supports the skills needed by chefs in the social and health care sectors, The Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care.”

The NACC developed the much-needed qualification in collaboration with the Hospital Caterers Association and Institute of Hospitality, and, since it was officially approved on the Ofqual Regulated Qualification Framework, has been used to support apprenticeship development pathways in care catering.

Case study: Two Dundee youths have been given valuable work experience – and a peek into life in a busy care home – as part of a drive to increase apprenticeship opportunities. Balhousie St Ronans, part of the Balhousie Care Group, welcomed two teenagers on work experience placements in its kitchen, where head chef Daniel Inglis shared his expertise. James Davidson, 15, did so well during his week of work
experience at the care home that his school agreed to him continuing to spend a day a week there. Matthew Craig, 15, is doing his placement as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Chef Daniel Inglis said: “I come in here in my own time to mentor them and when I’m working I’ll stay late to teach. I don’t teach people for credit or thanks, I do it because I love passing on what other chefs have taught me over the years. In catering there is no better feeling. I couldn’t be prouder of both young lads.” Apprenticeships play an important role in Balhousie Care Group’s corporate agenda and the company has been involved in more than 120 apprenticeships in the last two years.

Balhousie St Ronans care home manager Denise McCorkindale said: “Our care homes are as much a part of the community as they are homes for our residents. That’s why it’s important to us to invite in school and college pupils to soak up the experience of working in a care home and providing the services we do.” Claire Docherty, head of operations at Balhousie Care Group, added: “We see it as our duty as an employer to provide opportunities for our local youth. Apprenticeships and work-based learning play an increasingly important role for our youth and our workforce and we’re proud to be involved with them.”