Belfast Metropolitan College was extremely proud to celebrate its 110th anniversary in 2016 and recognise its achievement in continuing to make skills and education relevant today.

Through its vision of leading the city to work the College has developed a significant number of valuable partnerships with key employers throughout the city and continues to work towards providing a better future for young people through education and training.

One partnership that the College is particularly proud of is its continued association with top Northern Ireland chef and businessman, Niall McKenna, owner of the award winning restaurant, James Street South.

For the past three years, the “Tourism Hero” as hailed by industry chiefs, has opened up his restaurant to twelve Belfast Met apprenticeship students and explains that he views the programme as a solid investment in the future of world-class hospitality in Northern Ireland.

“This is a unique opportunity to develop skills in one of Northern Ireland’s fastest growing industries. Successful applicants receive ongoing training through weekly workshops in our Cookery School, as well as regular activities to ensure a greater appreciation of food, such as meeting producers and others on the supply chain. “This is geared for aspiring chefs who have the determination to succeed, learning from leaders in the industry and cooking with local produce to create the dining experience that James Street South is famous for.”

The programme has proved to be extremely successful with three of last years’ trainees securing full-time employment.

The apprenticeship applicants come from a wide range of backgrounds demonstrating Belfast Met’s determination to be remain and inclusive College for all. Marc Thompson had completed his zoology degree before joining the Apprentice Programme in 2015 and now works at top restaurant, Bar + Grill. He says the scheme has built up his confidence, and that the work gives him a huge sense of achievement.

“After completing my apprenticeship I have been working as a full time Commis Chef in the Bar + Grill. Despite the obvious drawbacks of long hours and a hot kitchen, I’m always getting to develop my own cooking style whilst learning on the job. This is an incredible opportunity and I am constantly learning from some of Northern Ireland’s leading chefs, in one of the best industry training schemes available.”

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