James Street South celebrates Apprentice excellence in bid to secure industry future

Conor Shields, James Street South Apprentice, Dr Andrea Cooper, Belfast Met, John McGrillen, CEO Tourism NI, Niall McKenna, Jim Wilkinson, Department for Economy and William Maxwell, James Street South Apprentice

Leading figures from the hospitality, tourism and education sectors attended a celebratory event at award-winning James Street South, as its Apprentice Programme participants graduated from the 2016/17 scheme, with six securing full time jobs within the restaurant group.

The completion of the third James Street South Apprentice Programme, created by chef and restaurant owner Niall McKenna, gave 12 students the opportunity to learn first-hand the skills required to work in the industry, while undertaking classes at Belfast Metropolitan College.

“Our Apprentice Programme has proven crucial to the development of the next generation of hospitality professionals. We provide real-time and real life experiences to allow a truly immersive training beyond the theory of the classroom.”, said Niall.

“This is a well-deserved celebration of the skills and talents secured by our Apprentices over the past year, and underlines the commitment and dedication they’ve shown over the past nine months in learning about the importance of local produce, from our dedicated team of chefs across James Street South, Bar & Grill, Hadskis, Cast & Crew and the Cookery School”

Aidan Sloane, Head of Skills and Apprenticeships at Belfast Met, which partners with James St South in the unique programme said:

“We are thrilled to be involved with the James Street South Apprenticeship Programme as it continues to go from strength to strength. The work-based experiences our apprentices gain with Niall and the team is invaluable. This programme is a prime example of the college and employers successfully working collaboratively to prioritise key skills areas for the city, providing young people with the necessary skills to succeed, while driving employer engagement & workforce development solutions.”

Having recently launched the fourth consecutive Chef Apprentice Programme for the 2017/18 academic year, see as a vital in creating a pipeline of talent for Northern Ireland’s hospitality sector.

John McGrillen, Chief Executive of Tourism NI, said;

“Niall McKenna, along with the team at James Street South and Belfast Met, continue to make a vital contribution to our tourism and hospitality industry through the Apprentice Programme.  Last year Northern Ireland welcomed 4.6 million visitors who stayed for more than 15 million nights generating over £850 million to the local economy. This equates to £2.3m spent every day, with still huge potential to grow. Local food and drink is at the centre of experiencing Northern Ireland at its best and so I commend all this year’s Apprentices for their hard work, dedication and contribution to our industry and wish them every future success.”

Niall has been hailed a “Tourism Hero” for his continued commitment to championing the provenance of Northern Ireland’s local produce and hospitality offering.

In addition to the Chef Apprentice Programme, James Street South recently launched the inaugural Front of House Apprentice Programme, also in collaboration with Belfast Met’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management. This new course will provide invaluable experience for those seeking a career in this field.

The James Street South Apprenticeship Scheme is funded by the Department for Economy ApprenticeshipsNI Programme. Anyone interested in the Apprentice Scheme should submit applications by XX August 2017. For more information go to

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