The British hospitality industry, incorporating restaurants and food service management, employs 10% of the national workforce with 100,000 new jobs forecast by 2020.
This September Northumberland College became one of the first to introduce Level 2 Technical Qualifications and Level 3 will follow next year. Andy Brown, Head of the Northumberland College Hospitality and Catering Academy said: "Academic study programmes are already well established and following the Sainsbury review that put forward recommendations to UK government, a new framework of technical pathways is being introduced in the UK to provide an equally rigorous Level 3 technical study programme. For us the new qualification will further improve links with employers in the sector."
In April the College were overall winners in the North East Culinary and Trade Association (NECTA) competition where students secured five gold, four silver and 12 bronze medals.
Andy said: "Having a strong and varied industry based enrichment programme is central to how students learning is developed. Giving them the opportunity to see and be involved in as many varied opportunities as possible. And that's where learning about produce and guest chefs comes in."
Guests chefs to The Gallery have included former student and now established Chef, Jonathon McManus from Alnwick Castle, Martin Charlton from The Boat House, Blyth and Head Chef David Kennedy from Pleased to Meet You, Newcastle.
David Kennedy said: "It is great to get involved with what Andy and his team are trying to achieve at Northumberland College. It is vital students on Hospitality courses are educated in a rounded way which gives exposure to all elements of the industry. These young people are the future of our industry and it's crucial we support their development in any way we can."
For the past six months, hospitality students have been collaborating with the College's horticulture department based at its Kirkley Hall campus, which incorporates a farm, Victorian walled gardens and greenhouses.
This means fresh, local seasonal produce is being used in a range of the restaurant's dishes. The latest harvest included apples, to be made into chutney and sold in the College's food outlets, pumpkins and squashes for use in soup and tomatoes, baby aubergines, runner beans and leeks.
Andy Brown explains: "We want students to be proud of where they come from and have a full understanding of the products that are produced in Northumberland as well as be aware of current trends in the hospitality industry."
"Facilities at the college's Kirkley Hall campus give us a unique opportunity to teach our students about food origins. Working in collaboration with the farm and horticulture department we can offer this farm to fork ethos, no other catering students in the region have that opportunity."
UK's booming leisure sector sees career opportunities for those within hospitality include commis chef, head chef, waiting staff and restaurant manager.
To apply and find out more about Hospitality and Catering courses at Northumberland College please visit www.northumberland.ac.uk .
Th e Gallery restaurant offers evening sittings twice a week, as well as a full lunch menu on weekdays, afternoon tea, a children's menu and from 29 November until 21 December, the restaurant will be serving Christmas lunches and evening dinners. Restaurant enquires and bookings can be made by emailing email@example.com .