The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation announced that its culinary apprenticeship program has been experiencing steady growth and will be celebrating, along with other apprenticeship programs during the U.S. Department of Labor’s first National Apprenticeship Week, November 2-8.

Through marketing efforts from ACF national staff and chef members, there are more than 1,800 registered apprentices in 40 ACFEF programs across the nation and 12 military installations. In 2013, the program reached over 1,400 apprentices and supervising chefs nationwide.

“An apprenticeship program gives students a paycheck as they receive hands-on training and the book knowledge necessary to be successful in today’s industry,” says Cindy Komarinski, CCC, CCE, HAAC, Ph.D., ACFEF Apprenticeship Committee chair. “The education model allows those who are interested in a culinary industry career to experience the high demands of working in a restaurant and the intensity of being on the line.”

This year, the U.S. Department of Labor has put renewed focus into growing and promoting apprenticeship programs and made the largest investment in apprenticeship in the nation’s history by providing $175 million in grants. DOL also announced the week of November 2 as National Apprenticeship Week. To promote the value of apprenticeship, ACF will highlight stories of culinary apprenticeship graduates on ACF’s blog We Are Chefsand on social media with the hashtag #NAW2015.

“These programs are working,” Komarinski says. “Foodservice establishments that are partnering with ACFEF’s apprenticeship program are able to recruit and retain staff who are eager to learn and want a career in the industry. In turn, this helps lower student debt and solve the industry’s labor shortage.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, on average, 87 percent of graduates from apprenticeship programs are placed in a position and receive an average starting salary of $50,000. In addition, an apprentice will earn an average of $300,000 more in wages and benefits over his or her career.

ACFEF’s apprenticeship program, which is registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, combines paid on-the-job training with related classroom instruction. Apprentices who complete the program have the opportunity to receive an American Culinary Federation Certified Culinarian, Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Sous Chef, and Certified Working Pastry Chef, which are nationally recognized culinary designations.

In 2010, ACFEF partnered with the U.S. Army to develop the 92G Credentialing Program. The U.S. Army incorporated ACFEF’s apprenticeship program into the U.S. Army’s existing foodservice training program. Through the partnership, the program as elevated the level of foodservice training for soldiers, which modernizes the U.S. Army food service as whole and provides the soldier with certified skills.

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