Tourism Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe has congratulated 50 chef graduates in Newlands, Cape Town.
The chefs were trained through the National Youth Chefs Training Programme (NYCTP). It is a project that develops unemployment youth between the ages of 18 and 35 years in the skills of the culinary arts. It's the brainchild of a partnership between the National Department of Tourism and the South African Chefs Association (SACA).
The programme was first piloted in 2011 for a period of 10 months, where a total of 800 young South Africans enrolled in the City and Guilds Certified qualification in Food Preparation and Cooking.
Phase two of the programme commenced in the 2012/13 financial year.
In continuing with the programme, the department approved a budget of over R74 million to train 577 learners during the 2015/16 financial year and another 577 learners in the 2016/17 financial year.
The beneficiaries are trained in the National Certificate of Professional Cookery NQF 3, which has 145 credits.
"Highlights of the training programme for the 2016/17 financial year include 90% learners passing, 66% of those achieving distinctions and merit passes, and 100% pass rate in nine of the schools around the country, including Vhembe FET, Alfresco Fusion in the Eastern Cape and the Mafikeng Hotel School in the North West," Minister Thabethe said.
Speaking on behalf of SACA, Chef Allister Esau said the programme has been a huge success, measured by the fact that most students have graduated and found permanent employment.
"Chefs and cooks coming through the programme have proven that this is a sound initiative and investment in the youth of our country by the National Department of Tourism, with SACA as the implementer," said Esau.
There are currently 19 culinary schools across the country and the Northern Cape is expected to also have a school as soon as it has met all the requirements.
The programme has also afforded some graduates an opportunity to work in the Seychelles, Dubai and the United States.
The future of this programme includes a continuation of 227 learners with the National Certificate Professional Cookery Course Level 3. One hundred trainees will also continue with the National Certificate in Professional Cookery Course Level 2. Additionally, the recruitment of 250 new entrants for the 2017/18 financial year period has started.