OTEC UPDATE - Ontario Ministry Funded Training Program - Prep. Set. Serve. - Succeeds in Getting Participants Employed




Program prepares youth with the culinary and food service skills to set them up for career success

During the Spring/Summer of 2015 OTEC partnered with Humber College Community Employment Services and Niagara College to launch Prep.Set.Serve., a unique program designed to develop the skills of youth for careers in the Food Services and Culinary sectors over the course of 11 weeks. The program combined in-class and workplace training based on emerit National Occupational Standards, and prepared participants with the certifications, knowledge and experience they required to find a job in these sectors.

The program officially launched in spring 2015 in Niagara and the GTA with funding from the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure through the Youth Skills Connections program. To date the program has been successful in connecting individuals with developmental opportunities and employers with skilled-workers. 

“The Prep.Set.Serve program has enabled Niagara College to develop new supporters and partnerships in the local culinary industry and to renew some existing relationships. Employers show interest in the program and in our participants. Links with community support agencies have also been positive in terms of providing referrals to Prep.Set.Serve. We appreciate OTEC’s leadership in administering the partnership contract with both Niagara and Humber College.”

Barbara Glass, Associate Dean, Access Programs, Niagara College

Not only has Prep.Set.Serve. (PSS) provided an opportunity for participants to build relevant skills in the restaurant and hospitality industry, it has also helped participants to enhance their soft skills and become more aware of workplace expectations, which contribute to their success on the job.  

“One of the students, when he applied for the program, clearly lacked confidence and was extremely shy. Just the other day, in a conversation with his parents, his mother talked about how great the program was for giving her son the opportunity to grow as an individual. She indicated that her son has made many strides in overcoming social anxiety, by building positive relationships with our instructors and classmates. It was evident that through course material such as Service Excellence, and the Workplace Essentials Modules, he gathered confidence in speaking and engaging others. ”

In addition to in-class training, participants gained the opportunity to explore a variety of career paths through guest speakers and site-visits. For example, as part of their 11-week program Humber College Community Employment Services participants toured the Sandman Signature Hotel Toronto Airport catering department as well as the Moxies restaurant attached to the hotel. The hotel manager generously offered to show the group around the facility and explain what it is like to work in the industry, as well as the other areas of hotel operations where they could apply their skills.  Based on this insider experience, 4 of the Humber College Community Employment Services participants decided they would like to pursue careers in the accommodations sector and all 4 are now successfully employed with local hotels, 3 of which were hired at the Sandman hotel shortly after the tour.

What makes the Prep. Set. Serve. program unique is that participants don’t just find a job, they explore both front-of-house and back-of-house employment options to find the right career fit for their individual interests and skills. This program provides participants with the credentials and opportunities for long term careers in the industry.

Since its launch earlier this year over 40 participants from 3 cohorts have successfully graduated from the program and of those graduates 31 obtained employment in the Food Services and Culinary sectors. Program success stories can be found online at http://www.otec.org/Community-Development/Success-Stories.aspx. A second cohort of program participants began in-class training at Niagara College in October 2015 and will be ready to join the workforce just in time for the holiday season!  

For more information about the Prep. Set. Serve. program, please contact your regional provider:

  • For the Niagara region contact Brett Stevens, Niagara College Project Officer at 905.735.2211, x7481
  • For the Toronto region contact Lynn VanLieshout, Humber College, Community Projects Coordinator at 416-675-6622, x5129