MONDAY 11 MARCH 2013 LAUNCHING THE APPRENTICESHIPS SCHEME WITH THE MAYOR OF LONDON
Launching the Apprenticeships Scheme with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
As some of you may have seen in the news, last week on 6 Marcy the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and I joined forces to launch an important new scheme, and one which is very close to my heart: the campaign to create up to 250,000 apprenticeship places in London by 2016.
On this occasion, the launch took place in the Brasserie Blanc restaurant in Threadneedle Street, and Boris the Mayor took his place as my apprentice! It was a pleasure to be his mentor. I had a good supply of blue plasters at the ready but in the event, no blood was spllled, even as he chopped a shallot under my keen eye, with a razor sharp Raymond Blanc by Anolon knife!
The event was to present the new apprenticeship scheme to the media, who were assembled in their masses! It is my pleasure and an honour to be an ambassador for this scheme. I am myself an example of a self-made man: I started at the very bottom, as a cleaner, and I made sure I was the best cleaner I could be. Then I became a washer up – and made my glasses the most sparkling of all. After that I moved on to be a waiter, where I learnt all about service and providing the best possible experience for the guest…. And finally, when the chef fell ill, I seized my opportunity and became a chef. So, having started without any training, I believe I am qualified to launch a scheme to encourage young people into this wonderful industry of ours – to show them that anything is possible, with hard work and lots of encouragement.
The Mayor has spoken of his ambition to create 250,000 apprenticeship places in the capital, across a huge range of business sectors and industries. This is a very ambitious aim, but one which we must support, for without ambition, we have nothing. London is one of the most exciting cities in the world…some may say the most exciting, the best of all. It is cosmopolitan, it embraces its multiculuturalism. And the food we create and serve here is an expression of all the people and all the cultures which make up this extraordinary city.
London employs over 300,000 people in the food industry. And those people create a turnover of more than £17bn. So there are great economic reasons to grow our own teams, to create the space for young, ambitious and excited people to join our industry at the bottom, and learn all there is.
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has its own scheme for recruiting and training apprentices, so I am delighted that the same initiative is now happening in London. At Brasserie Blanc we will employ 20 young apprentices across London and the rest of the country. And we will endeavour to give them all great training and great opportunities to learn and to do well. This is one thing that, perhaps, our industry has not always done well. But now is the time.
At Le Manoir I have – along with my magnificent team – trained more than 27 Michelin starred chefs. May of them came to Le Manoir as young commis chefs and left as fully fledged chefs who have become stars in their own right (link to website section).
The food and service industry is a wonderful, rewarding industry which can offer so much to a young person just beginning a career. We must encourage them, show them the opportunities which lie ahead, and show them how they can achieve their goals. Not all young people are destined for careers based on academic success. The apprenticeship scheme is a perfect route for young men and women to create a successful, vocational career.
I call on all my friends and associates who are employers to take this scheme to your hearts, and open your doors to the young people who are our future. Employers will gain, staff will gain, and customers or guests will also benefit. We must all see the good that will come from this, and recognise that the young people we recruit are our future. There is financial support from the government for employers who take on apprentices, and the de Vere Academy can provide practical support too.
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