Oliver’s army gets recruit as Jamie backs campaign

Published: 13 Oct 2015

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is giving one lucky youngster the chance to kick off their career in his Aberdeen restaurant as part of his support for the Press and Journal’s Apprentice 100 campaign.

During a visit to the Granite City, the TV favourite not only pledged to take on a trainee at his Union Street venue – Jamie’s Italian – but said he was so impressed by the campaign it had made him look at how he could do more for apprentices across the country.

“This is a brilliant idea and a great campaign, so all credit to the Press and Journal for launching it,” he said.

“We are definitely going to take on an apprentice in Aberdeen and will have something in place in a month or two. Apprenticeships offer on-the-job training and have the capacity to teach a trade to someone who might not otherwise get their foot in the door. It’s the most brilliant opportunity.

Jamie Oliver

“We are all geared up and can offer NVQ2 training on site and support an apprenticeship but sometimes, when you’re tackling metaphorical fires every day, you just need to stop and have that conversation.

“We have always offered on-the-job training but we need to fine-tune it and make it an official apprentice scheme.

“We’re slightly embarrassed because at the moment we sort of half do it, but the Press and Journal campaign is brilliant because it’s made us think about it. As a result we’ll be looking closely at the apprentice scheme and hopefully trickle it down through all our businesses.”

One of the most successful businessmen in the UK and reportedly worth more than £180million, Jamie revealed that he is very proud of his own Fifteen apprentice programme.

He established a London-based restaurant and recruited 15 young talents to train alongside a team of 25 professional chefs and mentors.

The 40-year-old said: “I get a great sense of achievement from it but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve done because Fifteen is a kind of hyper version of a turbo-charged apprenticeship. “Apprenticeships are hugely important, especially for someone like myself. I did very badly at school but I loved to cook, wanted to work and liked the idea of earning a living, so on-the-job training was brilliant for me and definitely saved me.”

From an early age, he helped out in his father’s pub. The star said: “My old man would say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but that’s where he and I disagree as I believe that nearly everyone has the potential to change and to be excellent and brilliant.

“Thirteen years after starting the Fifteen programme some 440 students have graduated and some are working for Michelin star-restaurants.”

Although he has had awards and praised heaped upon him, a prestigious Michelin star is something that’s eluded him.

“I’ve never chased stars but I’d love to see the team at Fifteen London get one because I think they deserve it.”

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