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About Finding an Employer

You MUST have an employer before you can start an apprenticeship. You can search for an apprenticeship job here.
If you don't yet have an employer you can still apply for an apprenticeship and we wil try to help you find an employer.


An Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery will provide you with the skills and experience to work competently within the hospitality industry whilst working towards the industry standard qualification. As an apprentice, you will work under close supervision of an experienced employer. You will learn all aspects of the industry while maintaining effective working relationships with other trades and customers.

Am I ready to start?

If you have good hand skills, have an interest in how things are made and like solving problems then this could be the career for you.

Entry criteria varies depending on the framework you are studying and the needs of the employer, but a good level of secondary education is expected and many employers expect you to have maths and English GCSE at a C grade or above.

Employers also look for skills like motivation, good interpersonal skills, good communication skills, teamwork and a willingness to learn and will set their own specifications depending on the role.

It may be you don't feel you are ready for an apprenticeship and might benefit from a Traineeship first.

How does an Apprenticeship Work?

An apprenticeship programme is delivered via a mixture of on and off-the-job training, whereby you can apply your skills in real work contexts.

The apprenticeship programme usually consists of the following elements:

Knowledge element:
This is the technical certificate and covers the theory side of your work which is delivered when you attend College, so that you can put these newly acquired skills into practice at work.

Competence element:
This is the practical side of the programme and is assessed directly within the workplace by a Harlow College Assessor to ensure that you are developing your skills within the workplace and putting all that you learn at College into practice

Functional skills:
This area covers English and Mathematics

Transferable skills:
These are the skills that help you develop your Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS) and your rights as an employee within the workplace.

The duration of the course is dependent on prior attainment and can range from 12 months to 18 months. You will attend College for 1 day a week and you be in the workplace for the remaining 4 days.

What does the course involve?

You will be working towards achieving Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery Units may include:

  • Health and safety legislation
  • Teamwork
  • Food safety
  • Knife safety
  • Employment rights
  • Cook and finish complex meat dishes
  • Cook and finish complex poultry dishes
  • Cook and finish complex vegetable dishes
  • Prepare, cook and finish complex soups
  • Prepare meat for complex dishes
  • Prepare, cook and present complex cold products
  • Prepare, cook and finish complex bread and dough products
  • Prepare, finish and present canapés and cocktail products
  • Set up and close the kitchen

During your programme you will also have to undertake the technical certificate which is an on-line system mirroring your NVQ qualification.

Down to business, what can I do and what can I earn?

After taking this qualification you could increase your supervisory skills by taking:

  • Level 3 Award in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership Principles
  • Level 3 Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership

Demand for skilled chefs is high. Successful completion of this apprenticeship could lead to a range of careers. These qualifications are ideal if you have a supervisory role in a kitchen and are aiming for a promotion.

Chef de partie – £16,000-£30,000
Demi Chef – £16,000-£32,000

If you take the Patisserie and Confectionery specialism, you might aim to become a pastry chef in your own section of the kitchen.


Got a job?

You must have a job to do an apprenticeship. If you already have a job you may be able to do an apprenticeship with your current employer.

If you don’t have a job for your apprenticeship – apply for your place at College by clicking the 'Apply Now' button at the top and bottom of the page.

Once you have applied please check out our apprenticeship job vacancies.

An apprenticeship comprises two parts:

  • Typically 20% study element (at Harlow College or Stansted Airport College).
  • 80% work based element with an employer. It is your responsibility to find an employer.

Great, so what do I do now?

Call 01279 868240 to speak to an Apprenticeships adviser

Contact us about applying for an Apprenticeship