We have set a high standard for ourselves to always deliver quality and innovative food, and beverage solutions to our clients who, in turn, deliver the same to their clients. Truth is, we understand that in order to be successful at fostering change and managing sustainable impact in the industry, we have to be involved with sustainable development initiatives that empower young talent. As the saying goes; “the future is in the hands of the youth”.
Our YOCUTA programme was introduced for exactly that reason, to ensure that the youth has the means to take the future into their own hands and personalise it to fit their goals. If you read more of this article below, you’ll learn about the YOCUTA programme, how it works and which strategies are in place to ensure that it makes an impact in the foodservice industry.
What exactly is the YOCUTA programme?
YOCUTA, short for Young Culinary Talents, is a free culinary education programme. It aims to empower the youth who are passionate about the culinary arts, with the necessary knowledge and skills to earn their places in the workforce through foodservice delivery. It’s been made possible through partnerships with culinary schools such as HTA Culinary School and food associations like the South African Chefs Association (SACA).
Why did we start the YOCUTA programme?
Nestlé Professional South Africa has always recognised the need to add sustainable value to aspiring chefs operating within the foodservice industry. This was the core reason behind the birth of The Nestlé Professional Enterprise Development Programme five years ago. So far, the programme has played a huge role in upskilling, guiding and supporting home-grown entrepreneurs in the field of industrial, commercial and private catering.
However, YOCUTA was launched in Europe in the year 2013 with the aim to take on the economic and social crisis that the continent was facing at the time. This culinary school programme has since trickled down to other parts of the globe – including South Africa – because the Nestlé Group believes in the special mission to create shared value. It’s designed to change the economic and social conditions for the special individuals in the food and beverage industry, their families, our communities and the planet.
It aims to give 10 million youth access to economic opportunities around the world, through strengthening their theoretical and practical skills, and preparing them for their professional career while helping the foodservice industry to fill the shortage of skilled culinary workers worldwide.
We’ve all seen the reports in the last quarter of 2019, which highlighted an increase in youth unemployment rates in South Africa. The report also details some of the key reasons behind youth unemployment, making an example of the lack of skills among the youth. Which, ultimately, results in the youth being locked out of the job market. This leaves them vulnerable to long-term unemployment and poor living conditions.
The culinary industry is also facing the same challenges, with job vacancies and turnover remaining high, while the skills in the workforce are still disturbingly low. This is where Nestlé's Global Youth Initiative, YOCUTA, comes in, to help address the issues of youth unemployment through a structured culinary school programme.
This programme is broken down into three pillars, with pillar one taking priority while we are working to finalise the infrastructure required to accommodate the other two pillars – which are projected to kickstart in 2022.
Pillar 1: employed youth
This pillar was set up to prepare the youth for success by providing CV writing skills, interview skills, an introduction to careers in foodservice and nutrition, health and wellness. Pillar one is designed to ensure that students understand the career paths available for culinary professionals in the foodservice industry and understand the importance of nutrition in maintaining optimal health.
Pillar 2: skilled food service professional
This pillar will provide the youth with culinary certification, hygiene and safety as well as practical skills training.
Pillar 3: engaged and mindful chefs
The last pillar focuses on inspiring the new generation of chefs with advanced culinary skills training, sustainable foodservice training and nutrition for professionals training. In the end, YOCUTA programme is the perfect starting point for a student looking for a career in the culinary industry. It also aims to enable upcoming small business owners to implement world-class cooking and hygiene standards and in so doing cultivate a sustainable competitive advantage.
How do you know if you’re the right fit for the programme?
The student selection process for this programme will prioritise people who come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. However, to qualify, you need to be of legal working age in your country (South African labour law). For this programme, in particular, you need to be between the ages of 18 and 30 years. The programme needs to be as diverse and well balanced as possible, so the opportunities will be offered to a balanced cohort.
Student support during the YOCUTA programme
To keep the learning environment more productive, the YOCUTA programme needs to offer support to the students throughout the programme. It also needs to follow the traditional learning practices such as rewarding hard-working students and offering them incentives where necessary. These incentives will be managed on an ad hoc basis by lecturers and will include recipe booklets, product hampers and practical exposure to a well functioning and established kitchens and more.
The YOCUTA programme is designed to change the lives of the youth who want to get into the food industry. It aims to help with the big challenge of youth unemployment and provide the youth not only with skills and knowledge but also hope for a better future.