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Government Signs Up Modern Apprentices At Sky City



Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey today announced that two junior chefs from Sky City in Auckland will be the first hospitality apprentices appointed under the Government’s Modern Apprenticeships Scheme. The move is significant in an industry which has not traditionally offered full apprenticeships, yet provides substantial employment and tourism earnings for the country.

Joseph Tahaafe (19 years) and Elliot Hammond (18 years) were welcomed by the Minister into the Government-initiated scheme at a ceremony in Sky Tower’s ‘Sky Lounge’ this afternoon.

Joseph Tahaafe, a recent graduate from Auckland Hotel and Chef School, spent his weekends and school holidays juggling jobs as a kitchen hand at the Aotea Centre and for a large catering company to gain experience. Earlier this year the former Mt Roskill Grammar School student approached Sky City’s Executive Chef Warren Bias and asked for work experience in the company’s kitchens. He has been with Sky City ever since.

Fellow apprentice Eliott Hammond, who attended Westlake Boys High School, always knew he wanted to work with food. Jobs in a Parnell café and West Auckland restaurant saw quick promotions, no doubt due to the enthusiasm and commitment he still displays, often coming in to work at Sky City on his days off to gain experience in other areas of the kitchens.

Sky City has committed to the scheme, which encourages trades-based business to re-launch the concept of apprenticeships, as it believes such training is an essential ingredient in lifting hospitality and service standards across the industry.

“Developing talent within the industry is particularly important in ensuring the market meets the expectations of international tourists, who contribute significantly to both the local and national economies,” says Terry Hilsz, General Manager Food & Beverage at Sky City. “It’s also vital in improving overall industry standards and producing tomorrow’s world-beating chefs,” he says.

Executive Chef Warren Bias agrees and says he and his team will do everything to see Sky City’s apprentices succeed.

“These are the leaders of the future in our industry,” he says. “We will do everything we can to help them achieve their goals in this highly competitive industry. They are talented individuals who certainly have the passion and the ability to be New Zealand’s top chefs in the future.”

Auckland gaming and entertainment operator Sky City is one of the largest food and beverage operations in New Zealand and Terry Hilsz says this enables the organisation to offer apprentices a range of experiences across the spectrum of hospitality services.

He believes the organisation has the ideal infrastructure to support apprentices with the academic component of the qualification sitting well alongside the systematic industry training Sky City provides.

“The sheer diversity of our operation means that we offer something unique to the apprentices. During their three-year apprenticeship they’ll experience work in a broad range of kitchen environments, from our café and brasserie operations to fine dining, conferences and banqueting and a specialised ethnic cuisine restaurant. I don’t know of any other single operation that could provide apprentices with this sort of exposure,” says Mr Hilsz.

Sky City was developing its own apprenticeship programme when the Government announced its intention to launch a similar initiative on a national basis. Terry Hilsz approached the Government’s national implementation team on behalf of the company to identify ways in which they might work together. The outcome saw Sky City involved as a pilot organisation when the scheme was publicly announced in July this year.

The scheme, a new vocational and education pathway targeting 16-21 year olds, involves Modern Apprenticeships Co-ordinators such as the Manukau Institute of Technology, which works with Sky City, providing recruitment and placement services to assist employers to engage suitable people as Modern Apprentices.

The Government has set a target of having 3000 Modern Apprentices by the end of 2002 and will invest $42.2 million in the initiative over the next four years. Sky City will appoint four further apprentices before the end of 2000.


For further information please contact:

Communications Executive, Sky City Limited
Tel: (09) 3636025 or (021) 669 413

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