Get cooking in Squamish

Training course begins in September for those struggling to find or keep a job in town

Like to cook and feed others? Or just looking to up your employment game?

If you answered 'yes' to either question, this might just be the course for you.

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A new culinary skills training program is launching this fall for anyone who has had a tough time finding or keeping a job.

Students will learn the skills necessary to work in the hospitality industry.

The pilot project runs Sept.10 to Oct. 31 and is offered by the not-for-profit Cutting Barriers Employment and Training Association in partnership with the District of Squamish.

Squamish Helping Hands Society and the provincial government also support the project.

Cutting Barriers aims to help those who are disadvantaged to become independent through hands-on job training and employment. Eventually, Cutting Barriers will be housed in Under One Roof, which is currently under construction.

In the meantime, the eight weeks of the Culinary Skills Training Program will be held at The 55 Activity Centre using its industrial-grade kitchen.

Geared for those who may struggle with job security due to addictions, mental health or other challenges, the course also helps with handling stress, maintaining healthy boundaries and building confidence.

"This is community-based programming to enhance the skillset for the vulnerable sector — for folks facing challenges or transitioning back to work," said Cutting Barriers' executive director, Naomi Dunaway.

The course can accommodate eight to 10 students.

To qualify for the program, attendees must be 19 or older, able to commit to three days a week for eight weeks, and interested in working in the culinary field.

Certifications incorporated into the program include: Foodsafe Level 1, Superhost, Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, and Emergency First Aid with CPR and AED.

During week three of the course, WorkBC and Squamish Nation Employment and Training staff will help students connect to transportation, clothing and childcare expense services, if needed for future work.

Tim Hoskin, director of recreation services at the District, said the partnership with Cutting Barriers was a chance to put to good use an under-utilized space at The 55.

"We are looking for partnerships such as this to provide food services, inter-generational programming, opportunities for people in the neighbourhood to enjoy the space, and it is great to be centered around learning and food, and I think there is a lot of opportunity in this one," Hoskin said.

Course organizers are looking for local employers to partner with.

"A big part of it is partnerships with employers and giving people the opportunity to work in a kitchen, not just in training, but in a working, commercial kitchen," Dunaway said.

For more information, go to cuttingbarriers.org, call 1-877-423-6769 or email info@cuttingbarriers.org.

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