May 2015

University College Birmingham launches region's most prestigious chef apprenticeship

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University College Birmingham is launching a prestigious new course for apprentice chefs in partnership with the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

The University is the first institution outside London and the South to offer the three-year Royal Academy of Culinary Arts (RACA) Chefs Apprenticeship.

The course represents a unique opportunity for young chefs aged 16 to 19 to receive the highest level of culinary training while working alongside top professionals at the finest restaurants and hotels.

Successful candidates will be recruited throughout the region for the first intake in September 2015. All the trainees will receive industry respected qualifications and sit the RACA final exam on completion of the curriculum. If successful, the chefs will be awarded the coveted Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Diploma and become a Graduate of the RACA.

University College Birmingham (UCB) has been handpicked to deliver the “gold standard” apprenticeship due to its expertise and industry reputation. Up to 25 places are being offered for the new day-release programme.

The new recruits will undergo an intensive culinary traineeship before they start paid employment in industry, under the guidance of senior chefs, in January 2016.

The first apprentices will be expected to achieve NVQ Level Two in Professional Cookery by January 2017 and will complete the apprenticeship with a Level 3 in July 2018.

They will work at high-end establishments including Michelin star chef Glynn Purnell’s two Birmingham restaurants – Purnell’s and Purnell’s Bistro – as well as Simpsons, in Edgbaston, and The Cross at Kenilworth, Warwickshire, which both have Michelin stars.

During the apprenticeship, the young chefs will attend UCB each week for a day of formal training, practical work, culinary theory and assessments. The curriculum is cutting-edge and combines culinary traditions with modern developments and an internationally-informed body of knowledge.

The apprentices will also benefit from an unrivalled enrichment programme including demonstrations by leading chefs, “stages” at top restaurants and field trips to food producers.

Welcoming UCB’s new involvement with the apprenticeships, John Williams, chairman of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and executive chef of The Ritz, said: “The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts apprenticeships are at the heart of the core philosophy of the Academy and define and embed the countless culinary skills and talents at the highest levels for the next generation for professional chefs. This can only be good for the hospitality industry as a whole.” 

We are delighted to be able to offer the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Chefs Apprenticeship. The culinary scene in Birmingham goes from strength to strength and it is right that UCB continues to be at the forefront of training the next generation of industry leaders with this specialised chef course. The apprenticeships will be delivered by our chef lecturers working in collaboration with some of the best chefs in the region. The apprentices will receive a perfect blend of practical experience, skills-based learning and theoretical tuition. This course is a perfect opportunity for school leavers who have a passion for food and a desire to work with some of the best chefs in the region. UCB is delighted to be the first teaching institution outside the south of England to offer the RACA’s gold standard training, which is testament to the University’s high teaching standards, industry links and reputation.

Neil Rippington, Dean of the College of Food at UCB

The RACA, founded in 1980, is widely recognised as the UK’s leading professional association of head chefs, pastry chefs, restaurant managers and suppliers. The education and training of young people in the hospitality industry is one of the main objectives of the organisation, whose patron is The Prince of Wales.


To apply for the apprenticeship please fill out an online application form. Please note that the apprenticeship is not currently avaiable from the dropdown menu so please state 'RACA' after your name.

Entry requirements:

  • Apprentices on the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts programme at UCB will ideally have a minimum of Grade D in English and maths.
  • All candidates will undertake an initial assessment in English and maths to ensure they receive the appropriate level of support.
  • Successful candidates must have a positive attitude towards working in a busy restaurant and a passion for cookery.
  • UCB will provide apprentices with chef whites and kit.
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