PORT HAWKESBURY: The Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Strait Area Campus has announced changes to its culinary program that will provide students with a pathway into the marine industry.

Last week, the NSCC unveiled its new one-year Culinary Skills program. As part of the new program, the Strait Area Campus will offer Ship’s Cook Certification training.

“We feel super confident and excited about this program because of the flexibility and the pathway options for students,” said Hart.

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The program will begin in September 2018 and will replace the two-year Culinary Arts diploma program currently offered at the Strait Area Campus.

“Industry is really experiencing a shortfall when it comes to trying to attract individuals into the cooking field, or into the tourism and hospitality side of it,” said Hart.

Hart also said that retention tends to drop in the second year of the program, with some students leaving to take jobs in the industry. Currently, students who leave the program after one year receive no accreditation.

Hart said the NSCC conducted an environmental scan to research what programming is offered at other schools. They also reached out to the food and hospitality industries through associations such as the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, and Destination Cape Breton. Hart said in the end it was decided that three of NSCC’s culinary programs would become one-year Culinary Skills certification programs with a focus on the individual strengths of each campus.

Photo by Melanie Holder
Second year Culinary Arts student Quentin Boucher practices his pastry skills at the NSCC Strait Area Campus.

“We’re the home of the Nautical Institute, so let’s offer a really strong culinary one-year program that would meet the need to enter people into the workforce for the restaurants, the golf courses, the resorts, and that whole piece,” said Hart. “But let’s also provide students an opportunity to create a new pathway into the marine field.”

Hart pointed out that on average, a new graduate coming out of the culinary program could make between $12 and $13 per hour, while a graduate with certification as a ship’s cook could earn up to $23 per hour.

“Not only would you get a national certification from Transport Canada, but you would actually get the credentials of a culinary program and twice the pay scale from a one year program,” he said.

Hart says that for students who enroll in Culinary Skills at the Strait Area Campus for fall of 2018, the additional safety courses required for marine certification will be included with the cost of tuition. Students in the Ship’s Cook program will complete a 30-day work placement at sea and will receive training in galley cooking and marine safety procedures.

Graduates of the Culinary Skills program have the option to enter the Provincial Apprenticeship Program to become certified as Red Seal cooks. Students who wish to continue their studies can complete a second year in Culinary Management at NSCC’s Marconi, Akerley, or Kingstec campuses.

Although the two-year Culinary Arts Diploma will no longer be offered in Port Hawkesbury, Hart says the new program will open more doors for students.

“I think we have an opportunity here to really chart a new course with culinary and the students locally, and to provide them with great employment opportunities,” said Hart.