An inspiring TAFE NSW course is helping some of the Snowy Mountains’ newest citizens get the skills they need to find jobs and help feed the region.
Twenty-one women from Cooma’s growing multicultural community have recently completed a Statement of Attainment in Food Handling at TAFE NSW Cooma – and all plan to use it to parlay their passion for food into a career.
Cooma Multicultural Centre manager Yvi Henderson said the women, all of whom are from non-English speaking backgrounds, would use the TAFE NSW qualification to further their careers in food, whether through market stalls, restaurants or at-home catering businesses.
“This was a fantastic opportunity for these women who didn’t have an Australian qualification to enhance their employment prospects,” Ms Henderson said.
Ms Henderson said the TAFE NSW qualification would also allow some of the women to work at a planned social enterprise café at the multicultural centre.
She said sharing cultural food would help expedite the women’s integration into the local community.
“Food is a great way to build bridges between different cultures,” Ms Henderson said. “You don’t just learn about different cultures through food, you also learn about the person cooking it.”
The women come from around the globe, including Pakistan, Columbia, Thailand, Switzerland, Sudan and Bangladesh.
Ms Henderson praised TAFE NSW commercial cookery teacher Dave Arens for his delivery of the course and his cooking expertise.
According to the Economy ID website, food retailing generated $16.1 million in the Snowy Valleys Council area in 2020-21 and employed 195 people.
The upcoming winter season brings droves of tourists to the region, stimulating the economy and providing a great entry point into the workforce for the students.
“We have ski season coming up and hospitality venues are screaming out for workers so now they have their ticket, there will be lots of opportunities for these women,” Ms Henderson said.
TAFE NSW Hospitality team leader Craig Kidd said the course was an example of how TAFE NSW empowered students from all walks of life to further their careers.
“To be able to give these women the job-ready practical skills and knowledge to launch a career in food is fantastic,” Mr Kidd said.