One of Belfast's trendiest new restaurants has signed up to the Belfast Telegraph's 60 jobs in 50 days campaign to drive up the number of apprentices.
Howard Street, on the street of the same name, is seeking an apprentice commis chef "with the right attitude" to join the busy kitchen of the city centre premises where they will have the chance to learn the culinary trade from the bottom up.
But the job is not for the faint of heart, according to co-owner and manager Niall Davis, who said only someone with the grit to "cut it" will thrive in a kitchen full of hot food and often heated tempers.
Mr Davis said he and his business partner, chef Marty Murphy, were firm believers in apprenticeships and advocates of individuals finding alternative routes to success. Admitting that neither of the pair were ever academically-minded, he said that through sheer hard graft, passion and a determination, both managed to reach their career goals.
Through mentoring and gaining global experience, they said they achieved their shared dream of opening a restaurant.
And now they want to share their knowledge and expertise with a like-minded new apprentice.
"It's all about the attitude," Mr Davis said. "The wages are not going to be great at the start and they have long hours and physically high temperatures to cope with and it gets hot in other ways – but despite the sweat and toil, the rewards can be plentiful.
"If you take Marty, for example, who has no formal training and started at the bottom washing dishes and peeling spuds – he is now part owner of one of the most successful restaurants in Belfast."
Mr Murphy began his career at a relative's restaurant in Florida during a chance stint in the kitchen, and later trained with Michael Deane. He said the option was open to those who wish to study catering qualifications while working at the restaurant.
Mr Murphy added that recruitment for the apprentice was starting immediately while the restaurant was also seeking to hire a senior chef at the same time.
How to get involved
Over the last number of weeks, this newspaper has been encouraging companies of all sizes in Northern Ireland to take on apprentices as a means of investing in the future of the youth, while helping hone the skills businesses need to thrive in the future. The Belfast Telegraph has been working with companies, colleges and the Department for Employment and Learning to create 60 apprenticeships in 50 days - a target it will reach by May 1.
1 If you are an employer who would like to take on an apprentice as part of our campaign, please let us know by emailing email@example.com.
2 You can also contact the Department for Employment and Learning to find out about the apprenticeship system in Northern Ireland, on 0800 028 4161. You can also visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/index/information-andservices/education-andlearning/14-19/starterskills-16-18/apprenticeshipsni/apprentices.
3 You can find your apprentice by advertising in the usual way through the press or job centres or by going to a training supplier, which will have details of young people looking for apprenticeships.
4 The Department for Employment and Learning will fund the costs of the ‘off-the-job’ training in all apprentice frameworks for the under-25s.
Those who are over 25 will have 50% of their training paid for - but only if they are training in one of a defined list of economically important sectors, which includes the food and drink industry, IT companies and creative and digital media operations.
5 An incentive payment is also offered to employers of apprentices who successfully complete the programme of between £250 and £1,500.