Empact Group Food Solutions: Empowering careers and building futures through culinary education

by Tia

Empact Group Food Solutions is thrilled to announce the successful completion of the Artisan Chef Practical examinations. This milestone event took place on Tuesday, 14th November 2023, and marked the culmination of an exciting year for our aspiring chefs as they embarked on their 3-year Occupational Chefs qualification journey.

Empact Group Food Solutions, a values-based solutions business specialising in catering, cleaning, and integrated facilities management, is delighted to announce the successful completion of the first cohort of its three-year Occupational Qualification. This milestone not only marks a significant achievement for the 17 students who completed the first year but also reflects Empact Group’s commitment to its employees, referred to affectionately as ‘Empactors’.

In 2022, Empact Group initiated a unique opportunity for its staff by inviting them to submit applications for their family members. The objective was clear – to extend the ethos of “Do Right By You” and support Empactors by providing their family members with a chance for personal and professional growth. The selected candidates, numbering 17 in this inaugural cohort, underwent a rigorous selection process, which included submitting application forms, providing motivations, and participating in assessments and interviews.

Colette Herbst, Learning and Development Specialist at Empact Group Food Solutions, expresses the significance of this learnership programme: “This initiative is about building South Africa’s future for these young people. We want to empower them, and our ultimate goal is to employ these young graduates. This is an opportunity that most of them never dreamed they would have – a year ago, life was looking pretty bleak for most of them. To see them succeeding is exactly why we do this.”

The Occupational Qualification, run in partnership with NDS Chefs Academy, is a comprehensive curriculum that includes theory classes held at the training centre in Empact’s offices in Linbro Park. The practical element of the first year took place at hospital sites where Empact holds contracts, providing students with hands-on experience in a real-world environment.

Importantly, Empact Group with the support of CATHSSETA covers the cost of tuition, and all candidates receive a stipend to support them during their studies. The end goal of this programme is to employ the graduates back into Empact as a business, nurturing a cycle of growth within the company.

Lebo Lekotoko, the owner of NDS Chefs Academy and an Empact ESD programme graduate herself, oversees the training program. The selection criteria for candidates included being under the age of 27, holding a valid Matric certificate, and demonstrating proficiency in English. The interview process assessed candidates’ communication and conflict resolution skills through role-playing scenarios, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges of a kitchen environment.

At the first-year final practical exam, the candidates showcased their culinary skills by preparing a three-course meal for 25 people. This encompassed menu development, costing, staff scheduling, preparation, table scape, and serving – a comprehensive test of their abilities and readiness for the culinary industry.

Empact Group Food Solutions truly embraces this Occupational Qualification initiative, illustrating a genuine partnership with NDS Chefs Academy and a commitment to the success of the students who may one day become Empactors themselves. This program embodies empowerment and serves as a beacon of hope for the future of culinary education and career development.

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