« back to Showcase

Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: Carolyn Vang-Walker, Ventura County Adult Education Consortium

VCAEC Cooks Up A Culinary Pre-Apprenticeship Program

The Challenge

In recent years, apprenticeship programs have taken a back seat to other workforce and post-secondary initiatives. Prior to 2015-16, there were no apprenticeship programs offered at any of the member institutions of the VCAEC. Current research supports apprenticeship programs as a critical component of a job training strategy. The American Culinary Federation, widely accepted as the culinary leader, offers students a combination of OJT and classroom apprenticeship training. The challenge was coordinating with the Los Angeles Chapter to align and articulate a pre-apprenticeship program to meet the needs of Ventura County learners. An additional part of the challenge was to find employers willing to pay employees to participate in training.

The Solution

Ventura Adult and Continuing Education staff aligned and articulated a pre-apprenticeship program with the Los Angeles Chapter of the ACF, which is certified to provide formal apprenticeships. The CTE program offers high school graduates 446 hours of lab instruction (5 hours per week)utilizing the ACF curriculum standards plus 4,000 OJT hours at a local Sponsoring House, under the direction of a highly experienced chef. Students work up to 40 hours per week, earn 6 industry certificates and become Certified ACF Sous Chefs. VACE's partnership with the local WDB and the Ventura County Lodging Association resulted in members agreeing to pay their workers to participate in the pre-apprenticeship training with local chefs and hotel managers.


The program utilizes an integrated basic skills training model, which contextualizes the development of basic skills with the acquisition of workforce competencies. Pre-apprentices have opportunities to progress through the ACF standards while they are pursuing industry recognized certificates in the Food Service and Hospitality career pathway. For the first cohort, 3 students were interviewed and recruited by chefs at two Sponsoring Houses(Ventura Beach Marriott and Embassy Suites Mandalay Bay). Students participated in the Food Expo, met with local food industry professionals, and visited local farms. All 3 pre-apprentices have been hired by their Sponsoring Houses. One student is now enrolled in the culinary program at Oxnard College.

The Data

The proof of the success of the pre-apprenticeship program is evidenced in the measurable outcomes for this CTE program. All 3 pre-apprentices from the first cohort have earned the following certifications: ServSafe Food Handler, National ServSafe Food Protection Manager, and the National Work Readiness Credential. Additionally, all 3 pre-apprentice students were hired by their Sponsoring Houses and have verified increases in their salaries. The program is designed to be completed over a two-year period of time. Upon completion of 446 hours of lab time and 4,000 OJT hours, students will have developed the culinary talent needed to work in a professional kitchen. They will also be eligible to qualify for the ACF Sous Chef Certification.

4 people found this practice story helpful.

Did you find this helpful?