Modern Apprenticeships set budding chefs on route to success

Wednesday 04 March 2020

Apprentice Chef's from Cameron House are pictured with Sarah Dalrymple of SDConsultancy
(l-r) Modern Apprentice chefs Thomas O'Neill, Adam Neill, and Hassouna Nasser, are pictrued with Sarah Dalrymple of SDConsultancy

Modern Apprenticeships, and the SQA courses that provide their foundations, are enabling the next generation of Scottish chefs to take their first steps towards a successful career.

A new chef training programme, underpinned by awards certificated by SQA, is helping Cameron House Resort look to the future, ahead of its reopening later this year.

The Cameron House Chef Apprenticeship Programme, which launched in December 2019, currently has three young chefs - Thomas O'Neill, Hassouna Nasser, and Adam Neill - undertaking their education and training at The Clubhouse at Cameron restaurant located at The Cameron Club.

Jennifer Jurgensen, Human Resources Director at Cameron House Resort
Jennifer Jurgensen, Human Resources Director at Cameron House Resort

The scheme has been designed to be an industry-leading programme, so says Jennifer Jurgensen, Human Resources Director at Cameron House Resort. Jennifer adds: “Once our Modern Apprentices joined the Cameron House team, they started working towards nationally recognised qualifications in a first-class hospitality environment.”

Jennifer continues: “When we devised the programme, we wanted to source the very best training and assessment partner we could, and that's when we approached Sarah Dalrymple of SDConsultancy.”

With over 20 years' experience working across hospitality, management, and business and administration sectors delivering SQA courses and training programmes, Sarah Dalrymple has been providing assessment services and support for businesses delivering Modern Apprenticeships across Scotland.

Based in the Scottish Borders, SDConsultancy is an SQA approved training centre, delivering SQA courses and qualifications. The intake at Cameron House Resort are the latest in a line of some 500 Modern Apprentices to have been supported by Sarah.

Sarah says: “When I meet with our apprentices, I work with them and their employer to identify which SQA qualifications would be most suited to their working environment. It could be the SCQF Level 5 in Hospitality Services, right up to the SCQF Level 8 in Hospitality Management, the highest level we offer through SQA.”

Jennifer Jurgensen says the combination of relevant, industry-proven qualifications from SQA, combined with Sarah's enthusiasm for the sector and commitment to the apprentices made SDConsultancy the natural choice for delivering the programme at Cameron House Resort.

Jennifer says: “SDConsultancy stood out due to Sarah's unique approach to working with the Modern Apprentices, combined with her innovative use of technology to capture the evidence of the work the apprentices generate.”

Sarah explains that gaining an SQA qualification is a key aspect of the Modern Apprenticeship programme, adding: “Particularly in hospitality, people coming into the sector for the first time often do so completely without any proof of their abilities, and while they can work successfully in their jobs, ultimately they won't have any qualifications to demonstrate their skills. By gaining an SQA qualification at the outset of their path, our apprentices are giving their careers the best possible start.”

Thomas, Hassouna, and Adam are undertaking an SQA Professional Cookery qualification at SCQF Level 6. While doing so, they are gaining valuable skills as key members of the team at the hotel's Clubhouse Restaurant.

Thomas says: “We have been working with different types of pastry, meats and breads - learning the fundamentals of cooking. Yesterday we made our own pasta, which is something I didn't think I would ever get to do.”

Jennifer says that in today's competitive jobs market, an apprenticeship scheme is something that all employers should consider, adding: “We really need to be able to demonstrate the ability to offer first class programmes for young people to join our industry and succeed through learning on the job. It's not often that you get young chefs like Thomas aspiring to be head chefs, but it must be amazing to be their head chef and know they are that committed to the programme.”

With plans to recruit ten new apprentice chefs this year, Jennifer says the programme will play a key role as the hotel looks to the future, saying: “It is particularly important this year that we add strong apprentices into the kitchen brigades as we have to recruit over forty chefs across five different kitchens. The apprentice teams will be very much part of our success in 2020.”

Meanwhile, Martin Goldie, a budding chef at leading Highland hotel Inverlochy Castle has attributed his success to the Modern Apprenticeship he undertook with SDConsultancy once he left school.

Sarah Dalrymple from SDConsultancy says: “Martin took up his first position at Crossbasket Castle near Hamilton straight after leaving school, but he showed such promise in those early days that his head chef at the time asked us to go in and work with him on a first round of qualifications. Together, we selected the Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Professional Cookery (Patisserie and Confectionary), as he has a natural flair for chocolate work. His journey since then has really been quite remarkable.”

Chef Martin Goldie
"The benefits the Modern Apprenticeship has given me, and the boost to my confidence, have been fantastic!"
Martin Goldie, Pastry Chef, Inverlochy Castle

Martin added: “Since the first days of my Modern Apprenticeship, my knowledge and skills have developed hugely. I'm in a fortunate position, learning first-hand from world class chefs. Once I finished my patisserie course, I moved on to the Chez Roux group at Cromlix House Hotel, and started on another SVQ, this time in Hospitality Management.”

Sarah Dalrymple continued: “The Hospitality Management SVQ gave Martin a wealth of experience, particularly in managing and leading a team. Without doing the two SQA courses, he might have been able to develop some of the same skills, but he certainly would not have been able to demonstrate what he has been able to achieve to the same extent as he can now.”

Brian Grigor, Executive Chef Consultant at the Chez Roux Scotland, said: “It has been a real pleasure to see how Martin has progressed within the Chez Roux Group. His desire to learn the craft of becoming a talented pastry chef is down to hard work, determination and an appetite for learning. We are always looking to promote within the group and Martin was the ideal choice for the role at Inverlochy Castle Hotel.”

Martin has a piece of advice for anyone considering a Modern Apprenticeship: “Do it. Hospitality can be a hard industry to come into, but the benefits the Modern Apprenticeship have given me, and the boost to my confidence has been fantastic. It's allowed me to develop the skills and knowledge that I have needed to help me move from successful property to property and be recognised by my peers for my talents - I've got something to show for what I've done.”

SQA National Business Development Manager Caroline Hunter says that by investing in apprentices, businesses like Inverlochy Castle, and Cameron House are setting a fantastic example to other employers, not just in the hospitality sector, but across the board. Caroline adds: “The qualifications and courses that SQA offer, and the support given by training providers such as SDConsultancy, enable employers to take on the responsibility of training their own people. This means they can tailor their development and get exactly the sort of person they want to fit their specific needs.”

For information on SQA, the qualifications it offers, and how it supports Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Apprenticeships, and Graduate Apprenticeships, visit

Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2020 runs until Friday 06 March.