On 7 May 2013, the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) is going to launch one of the most exciting developments in the culinary industry this year: the WACS global culinary certification scheme.
The scheme, developed in partnership with City & Guilds, is the first global culinary certification scheme in the world. It has nine different levels which are aimed at cooks, chefs and culinary educators who wish to gain recognition for the skills, experience and knowledge they have gained while working in the industry.
‘It has been a lifelong ambition for WACS to give something back to the culinary community’, says Gissur Gudmundsson, President of WACS. ‘There is hardly anything available for chefs and cooks who may not have had the opportunity to obtain a qualification or were just too busy building their careers and did not manage to find the time to go back to formal education’, Gudmundsson continues.
WACS is a global network of 93 national chefs associations founded in 1928, representing over 10 million professional chefs. WACS dedicates all of its activities to maintaining and improving the culinary standards of cuisines around the world.
‘We want to celebrate success’, adds Gissur Gudmundsson, President of WACS. ‘We want to encourage cooks, chefs and culinary educators to continue learning as this is the only way in which we can help to raise standards within the industry.‘
As well as targeting cooks and chefs, the scheme also recognises the role culinary educators play in the training and education of the next generation of chefs.
‘The work of teachers and trainers is often overlooked in the industry’, says John Clancy, Chairman of the WACS Education Committee. ‘The scheme brings to the forefront the invaluable contribution of educators around the world and allows us to formally acknowledge the positive difference they make in the professional and personal development of young cooks as they are starting out in the industry.’
WACS joined forces with City & Guilds, one of the world’s leading certification bodies, to develop the scheme. ‘We only work with the best and are delighted to have City & Guilds as our certification partner’, notes Gudmundsson. City & Guilds has led the work around setting the standards and defining a suitable quality assurance mechanism which will provide sufficient flexibility to operate the scheme at a global level without compromising on quality.
The two organisations have spent two years planning all the details of the scheme to ensure that it is relevant to employers and reflects the typical career progression within the industry.
One of the key features of the certification scheme is the innovative use of technology so that it can reach out to as many individuals as possible around the world. The application and the assessment processes are done electronically which makes the scheme affordable and accessible. Applicants can take the time they need to prepare their evidence which will then be submitted to WACS using an electronic portal called Learning Assistant.
‘The scheme complements qualifications and certification schemes available around the world’, notes Clancy. ‘It is all about recognising industry experience and re-engaging professionals in learning in a way which is not always possible through formal qualifications. We have made a conscious effort to incorporate existing certification schemes and competitions into the requirements where it was appropriate to do so. For example, we will accept Master Chef and Master Pastry Chef certificates from around the world as part of the entry requirements for applications at the WACS Certified Master Chef and Master Pastry Chef levels.’
The scheme has been unashamedly designed in a way that it can bring value to employers as part of their recruitment, training and staff retention programmes. WACS has undertaken extensive consultation with the industry and found that the most important qualities that employers are looking for include attitude, passion and motivation as well as having the right skills. The scheme allows chefs and cooks to demonstrate to an existing or potential employer as well as their own customers that they are willing to go the extra mile and have met an international benchmark while doing so.
‘It is going to be a very exciting time for chefs’, commented in Gudmundsson. ‘The future is beautiful’.
And who could argue with that?
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
WACS is the leading authority in global cuisine, dedicated to defining and promoting standards within professional cooking and hospitality around the world.
Through educational programmes, international culinary competitions and congresses and assemblies, WACS has been leading the way in shaping the role of the professional chef since it was established in 1928.
WACS membership includes cooks, chefs and culinary educators from over 93 countries; representing over 10 million professionals.
About City & Guilds
City & Guilds is one of the world’s leading vocational education businesses, offering over 500 qualifications across 28 industries. The organisation operates in 80 countries with a network of over 20 regional offices around the world.
City & Guilds has over 130 years of experience in designing qualifications and assessment and its qualifications are considered by employers to be the benchmark for workplace excellence around the world. Last year alone, nearly two million people studied towards City & Guilds qualification.
The City & Guilds Group comprises City & Guilds, the Institute of Leadership & Management (management and leadership qualifications), Learning Assistant, the Centre for Skills Development (research arm) and City & Guilds’ latest acquisition, Kineo, an awarding winning e-solutions company.
City & Guilds, unlike many other certification bodies, is a charity and therefore a not-for-profit organisation. Any surpluses made through its work is reinvested into education or used to support educational programmes.