A NEW cafe and cookery school is opening in Bradford city centre, and will be staffed by students preparing for a career in hospitality.

Earlier this year training group Aspire-igen moved into a new base in Cheapside, the former Commerce House opposite Forster Square Station.

Now the group has purchased a neighbouring cafe, and is in the process of transforming it into a facility where students can pick up the skills needed to work in some of the area’s finest catering establishments.

The previous business based in the unit, Cafe Intouch, has re-located to a larger unit on the same road.

Over the coming weeks, staff at Aspire-igen will turn the unit into The Canteen – a cafe serving breakfast and lunches in a prime city centre location. The students will help to cater for meetings and events held in Aspire-igen’s event space, for local business lunches and the public, as well as free lunches for students attending other training courses.

Around 16 local students will be given the opportunity to train in the facility. The Canteen is expected to open later this month.

Right next door, learners will have the opportunity to take part in catering and hospitality training in the accompanying Cookery School.

There they will develop the skills they need to progress in the industry, before putting the same skills into practice preparing food and serving customers in The Canteen.

The Canteen and The Cookery School is Aspire-igen’s latest venture to support young people into an industry which has growing job opportunities and to help to address the growing skills gap in this sector.

Bosses at Aspire-igen say The Canteen and The Cookery School are already generating interest with employers such as the 5-star Grand Hotel in York and Oulton Hall in Leeds getting involved to offer Bradford learners the opportunity of work experience, training and careers talks.

The course is run in partnership with The Midland Hotel – directly opposite The Canteen, which has been involved with the project from the start, including selecting the qualification and the units the students will do as part of their course.

Jo Hainsworth, head of Aspire Enterprises, said “We are delighted to have support from some of Yorkshire’s finest establishments.

“This means our learners will have the opportunity to experience all aspects of the catering and hospitality industry from a cafe culture to 5-star dining.

“It gives them a direct link to world of work and means that securing a job or apprenticeship after their course is a strong possibility.”

A newly-hired catering and hospitality manager will be responsible for the day-to-day running of The Canteen, The Cookery School and The Event Space, with a dedicated catering and hospitality tutor to take learners through their City & Guilds qualifications.

Further recruitment is underway for two part-time catering assistants and an events co-ordinator.