SCOTTISH catering provider Entier has strengthened its ties with the North-east by hosting its sixth apprentice scheme for school leavers.
Between 10 and 12 pupils are chosen to take part in a Cook Off, and up to three from these are selected to be Fresh Olives. The scheme attracted 165 hopefuls in its first year and the high level of participants has been maintained each year.
The programme is aimed at 4th, 5th and 6th year pupils and aligned to national education curriculums.
Each apprentice is given the opportunity to hone their skills in Entier’s self-funded, state-of-the-art training kitchens and facilities. Once qualified, they cater for thousands in major oil and gas firms, and North-east schools and nurseries.
Programme graduate Danielle Ritchie joined the scheme after leaving school at 16, and is now working alongside Entier’s kitchen manager as assistant kitchen manager.
Her career has included cooking for Nicola Sturgeon, golfer Paul Lawrie and comedian Kevin Bridges.
Most recently, Danielle has supervised food production at an Aberdeen private school.
“It was one of my teachers who encouraged me to go into food production as a career,” said 20-year old Danielle.
“Schools are an important way to encourage young people into the industry, and showing them they can succeed is really important.
“I’d really like to go into primary schools and introduce pupils to Scotland’s food and drink industry before they make subject choices. Scotland offers a unique range of products that are grown naturally and we’re lucky to have so many kinds of food and drink. Being adventurous with produce that’s grown in our own back garden is exhilarating!”
Now in its seventh year of business, Entier boasts a staff retention rate of 94 per cent – a standout statistic in an industry renowned for its seasonal or ad-hoc employment. This year, the Fresh Olives scheme has been expanded within the business, and now covers operations and HR. A university graduate has also recently joined the Sales & Marketing department.
Bruce Lawrence, executive chef at Entier who personally trained Danielle, said: “We recognised a need for more apprenticeships in Aberdeen and our Fresh Olives are becoming specialists in their field and growing with our company. Once qualified, they develop their talent in either craft skills or management.
“Danielle’s success shows that, when given support and motivation at an early age, young people can make their mark in the industry.”
Peter Bruce, CEO at Entier, said: “I am extremely proud of the Fresh Olives programme which allows us to put something back into the industry which has been so good to me, and to bring in new young exciting people into our business. Extending the programme to include Operations, HR and Sales & Marketing is ensuring that we are looking after the future of this company”.