Learning in the Workplace and Community - Certificate II in Hospitality (Kitchen Operations) School Canteen Program

Victoria University
Ms Frances Newell
Project Manager
VU College
+61 3 9919 5496

18 February, 2009


Vignette title and details

Learning in the Workplace and Community Certificate II in Hospitality (Kitchen Operations) School Canteen program
Part-time, 6 months, TAFE



Employment sector

Hospitality, Kitchen Operations

Student numbers

15 students

Credit bearing?

Compulsory. The program is compulsory for all students who are selected to participate in this method of completing the Certificate II in Hospitality (Kitchen Operations). Students receive credit recognition for their completion of the program.


Assessment is done primarily by observation of students working in the School Canteen, the use of checklists, and oral questioning. Students also complete some written work.


Paid. Students are paid by the Primary School during their placement.
Students are not eligible for any additional payment or scholarship funding from the University for completion of the program.

Number of staff involved

Three staff are involved in the program. A Program Manager, a Project Manager and a Sessional Trainer.
Students are supervised in the School Canteen by the Sessional Trainer who communicates regularly with the Program Manager, Hospitality regarding curriculum issues, resources, student participation and assessment. The Project Manager is responsible for the governance, project accountability, relationship and financial management of the program.


Key Words

Hospitality; Kitchen Operations; Chef; Learning in the Workplace and Community

The Learning in the Workplace and Community School Canteen program for students completing Certificate II in Hospitality (Kitchen Operations) at Victoria University is a partnership between Victoria University, a local primary school which wanted to open a canteen, and Maribyrnong Council which seeks to promote work and training opportunities for residents.

The program enables participants to work in a Primary School Canteen in which they are provided with a learning environment that builds on their skills and life experience whilst providing them with a realistic introduction to the Australian workplace, and training at the level of the Certificate II Hospitality (Kitchen Operations).

The participants in the program are mature age women and mostly from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD). Those participants from non-CALD backgrounds are often sole parents with very little, if any prior work experience or secondary education.

The program aims:

Structure of program
The program was structured as a continuation of the training participants receive in Certificate I in Hospitality which Victoria University delivers in a community venue with the support of the Maribyrnong Council. The training delivered in Certificate I focused on participants literacy and English language skills and ensures they had a Food Handling Certificate before they commenced work in the School Canteen.

The six month part-time Certificate II program requires students to undertake training three days per week. One day per week is spent in a training kitchen in a community venue, in which participants are taught hospitality trade skills, including fundamental knife skills and basic methods of cookery. The additional two days per week are spent in the School Canteen practising their skills by delivering lunch services to students under the supervision of a Victoria University Trainer.

The students working in the Canteen are subject to a Practical Placement Agreement. The VET Act requires that students on a Practical Placement receive a payment of at least $5 per day from their employer (in this case the school), which all students receive. The income generated by the Canteen services covers expenses in relation to the Practical Placement Agreement.

Assessment of students is conducted in both the training kitchen and the School Canteen. Assessment is primarily done by observation, the use of checklist and oral questioning, although some written work is required.

The real life workplace environment provided by the Canteen helps students develop tangible skills which can be readily applied to the hospitality sector. The Canteen environment requires students to order stores, implement a system for taking school lunch orders, file orders on time, bank monies, prepare food, and adhere to a Food Safety Plan and clean the kitchen. All these tasks have to be completed to a high standard and to a tight daily time frame. This ensures the development of the generic work skills such as time management, team work, communication, planning and personal presentation skills.

The program has also produced job outcomes for some students with 45% of participants finding work in the hospitality sector at the completion of the program.

Special features
The benefits of the program are not limited to the specific hospitality trade and generic work skills participants develop. Students also benefit from the program in several other ways.

For example, the Canteen program provides excellent cross-cultural competencies as both CALD and non-CALD participants are required to work closely as a team and the menu at the Canteen has been developed to meet the needs of the multi-cultural community.

Students also successfully negotiated various religious and cultural issues in the workplace. For instance, a number of issues related to religious modesty and the wearing of a kitchen uniform were successfully addressed; strategies included wearing a head scarf under the chefs cap, and wearing two aprons over the chefs pants one at the front and one at the back, to provide an appropriate level of modesty. Another cultural-religious issue involved the handling of pork; for some participants, it was not a problem, as long as they were not required to eat it; for others, there was an additional requirement to wear gloves when handling pork; and, a minority could not work at all with recipes requiring pork.

Further, the regular use of the same vocabulary and instructions in the School Canteen by both participants and the Victoria University Trainer enhanced the English language learning of students from CALD backgrounds. This was documented by five of seven participants surveyed that stated that their English and/or literacy skills had improved as a result of the course.

Participants in the program also reported that their hospitality training has impacted on the food they serve to their families outside the program. For example, when the students first began preparing fruit salad for the School Canteen, one student remarked that she had never cut up fruit before; she later reported that she was now serving fruit at home.

More broadly, the program has provided a practical strategy for addressing childhood obesity in the school community by providing healthy, multi-cultural and affordable lunches for the Primary School students.

Future work
The establishment of the program has required lateral thinking, partnership building, and communication on the part of all the partners. The Canteen Trainer is required to be calm and experienced at handling sometimes challenging behaviour. He or she must also endeavour to adapt the training program to the needs of learners from CALD backgrounds whilst delivering a lunch service on time and on budget. Despite these tests, the program has generally been a success with religious-cultural issues overcome and many students performing at a high level and definitely work ready.

The school community students, parents, the School Council, Principal and teachers have all provided positive feedback in respect of the lunch service, both via formal meetings with the Project Steering Committee and indirectly through the growing patronage of the Canteens services. Both the school and Maribyrnong Council are very keen for the project to continue.

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