Become an apprentice
There are many initiatives designed to help young people stay out of trouble and make something of their lives. As a successful social enterprise, Fifteen offers something very special: a trade which Jamie has made 'cool', a new sense of purpose and positive networks.
Fifteen London offers a 12-month Apprentice Programme that combines on-the-job-based learning (65 per cent), college-based work (8 per cent) and personal development (11 per cent). It’s not just a training course. It's a custom-made programme, tweaked and shaped over the years in order to champion the young people which it recruits. Each year, 18 young, unemployed people, between the ages of 18 and 24, are recruited and trained to become professional chefs. It's an intensive programme that requires hard graft and dedication to the end goal, but it's a transformational journey; 90 per cent of apprentices regard their time with Fifteen as a positive, indeed, life-changing experience.
Fifteen London's Class of 2014 Programme runs from September 2013 to August 2014. Applicants can apply online from April to May 2013. 18 young people who are formally accepted will be asked to join the Fifteen London kitchen in early September.
Each apprentice, while in the Fifteen London kitchen, is trained across a number of sections of the kitchen:
- Fish and mains
- Food preparation
- Meats and grill
- Pastry and desserts
- Starters and salads
Over the course of the year, as they develop in confidence and skill, the apprentices begin spending less time at college and more time in the restaurant. This culminates in Chefs’ Week where the apprentices take over the Fifteen London kitchen for a week, under the watchful eyes of the professional chefs.
Following this, the apprentices spend three weeks working in top-end restaurants to gain experience of how other kitchens work. Fifteen's got some great supporters from the likes of The Fat Duck, Rhodes Twenty Four and Bistrot Bruno Loubet, to name a few.
A recipe for a successful apprentice...
Fifteen receives about 200 applications every year, but just 18 apprentice chefs are recruited. In addition to the formal criteria, the team of assessors look for candidates who demonstrate:
- A passion for food and cooking
- A genuine desire to be a chef
- Determination and enthusiasm
- An ability to work as part of a team
The necessary ingredients...
In order to be eligible for the programme, you should be:
- 18 to 24 years old
- Not currently in education, employment or training
- Able to work in the UK for the duration of the Apprentice Programme, with guaranteed housing
- Living in the Greater London area for the duration of the programme
- You must be able to demonstrate a good command of spoken English
(We cannot accept applicants who have an NVQ qualification higher than Level 2.)
Ready to get cooking?...
- You'll need to work hard and long hours (late nights and early mornings)
- You'll need to be committed to the programme for one year
- You must be ready to start full-time by September 2013
- You must be available for interviews and assessments taking place from early June to the end of July 2013
- No previous experience in hospitality is needed, just bundles of enthusiasm
How the programme works...
The Apprentice Programme runs for a full year, from September to September. During this time, each apprentice works up to six days per week including formal training at catering college, hands-on experience at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, sourcing trips to suppliers, personal development activities and work experience.
Below is a rough breakdown of the year:
- One-week induction at the start of the programme
- one day a week at college (until April)
- one day a week of sourcing trips, work experience taster days, welfare activities, team building sessions or special events
- up to six shifts in the Fifteen kitchen, training in every section including pasta, grill, butchery, fishmongery, front of house and pastry
- Two weeks of work experience at a top-end restaurant chosen according to our apprentices' preferences.
- 'Chefs' Week', where the apprentices take over the running of the kitchen for a week (with the professional chefs on standby)
For the duration of the course, our apprentices receive an £125/week training allowance. Travel expenses are covered and the year also includes a four-week holiday entitlement.
The door is always open...
As well as offering formal on-the-job learning, apprentices are provided with a wider range of support called the ‘Open Door Programme’ to help them make the transition to qualified chefs. The training team helps with a range of complex issues, which could hinder their achievements, such as housing, debt, relationship problems and anger management. Professional educationalists and counsellors are also on hand to provide the apprentices with the skills they need to make the most of their programme. This is just one way of helping the apprentices to leave behind the negative beliefs they may have about themselves so they can fully embrace what Fifteen has to offer.
As part of the Open Door Programme, apprentices undertake challenging activities to strengthen their team-working skills, which are essential for working in any kitchen. A handful of these include residential challenges, team cooking competitions, fundraising events, treasure hunts, ice skating and bowling.
Cutting the apron strings...
The Apprentice Programme culminates in an annual graduation ceremony. More than 300 people join in to celebrate the achievements of those who successfully complete the programme. Graduates, their families and friends, previous graduates, supporters and partners from other restaurants, welfare agencies and sponsors are all invited. Jamie also attends and co-hosts the event so that he can personally congratulate the graduates. It's a magical event. And by the end of the evening, there's not a dry eye in the place!
After graduation, a dedicated Progression Worker is on hand to help graduates find employment or further training, where needed. More than 90% of apprentices stay in the business - and the programme is still growing. Progression support is also available to those apprentices who - for whatever reason - leave the programme early and to applicants who are unsuccessful in gaining a place on the programme.
If you would like to host an apprentice as part of their work experience or have a job opportunity that you'd like us to advertise to our graduates, please get in touch.