NICI aims to bring Skills for Success Program to Orana region

National Indigenous Culinary Institute CEO Nathan Lovett. Photo: Supplied

National Indigenous Culinary Institute CEO Nathan Lovett. Photo: Supplied

Young Indigenous people across the region will soon be provided a pathway to enter into employment within the restaurant and catering industry thanks to a new program.

The National Indigenous Culinary Institute is planning to bring its Skills for Success Program to the Orana region by 2021.

Starting in 2012, NICI's aim was to provide employment pathways for Indigenous people into commercial cookery apprenticeships with fine-dining restaurants.

NICI CEO Nathan Lovett said they identified an under-representation of Indigenous people in that industry and the Skills for Success program aimed to address that.

For the past eight years the program has been supporting more than 200 participants, which has lead to employment in commercial cookery apprenticeships.

Because of the success of the program in metropolitan areas, NICI are now looking at diversifying and implementing it within regional areas, Mr Lovett said.

"We are looking to work with good restaurants, business owners and chefs who can train young Aboriginal people to become good chefs, that's our goal," he said.

Mr Lovett said Dubbo is one of the focus areas for the program because it is a hub within the central west region and has a high Indigenous community.

"We see Dubbo as being a really integral part for us being able to develop our program in the area and to provide employment opportunities for Indigenous people in the hospitality space," he said.

The NICI CEO hopes the Skills for Success Program will be up and running across the Dubbo region by the 2021 calendar year with a focus on school leavers and other interested community members.

Mr Lovett said by not rushing the program, NICI are giving themselves time to work out all the kinks so it is successful both short and long-term.

"We would rather take our time and make sure we do it properly so... we can continue to do it each year and provide employment opportunities, which will allow us to impact on other areas like Lightning Ridge, Narrabri, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Mudgee, Orange, Parkes and Forbes," he said.

Mr Lovett said there have been previous program participants from western NSW, including a third year apprentice from Bourke.

"What we know is that by training, educating and employing locally, we will impact a lot more people and offer opportunities to move to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane," he said.

"If we have participants who have that desire to move and take on different opportunities then those opportunities will be there."

Recently NICI was recognised with a $10,000 Westpac Foundation Rural Community Grant awarded in partnership with the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR).

Mr Lovett said the funding will allow them to kickstart the program in Dubbo.

"It certainly helps with the initial phases in getting the collaborations set up so we will be able to establish all our key relationships with the stakeholders on the ground in the Dubbo region," he said.

NICI are looking at other funding opportunities for the Skills for Success Program so it can support more Indigenous apprentices.