One of the most exciting aspects of studying at Capsicum Culinary Studio – the largest culinary school in South Africa with six campuses across the country – has got to be the opportunity offered to participate in its Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme. This programme is designed to provide students with hands-on experience in real-world industry settings.
Twelve students from the school’s Pretoria and Rosebank, Johannesburg campuses certainly agree after they were recently selected to embark on a five month placement at three leading 5-star hotels in Mauritius. The group left for the Indian Ocean island on Tuesday last week.
Sifiso Chiloane, Capsicum’s Academic Training Coordinator, reveals more about the school’s WIL programme and its benefits for Capsicum students.
Q: Can you tell us about Capsicum’s Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) programme?
Capsicum’s Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) programme gives our students the opportunity to get practical experience in real-world industry settings. This allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge in real-world work environments, enhancing their skills and preparing them for successful careers in the hospitality industry. The programme combines classroom learning with supervised work placements, giving students a comprehensive understanding of their chosen field.
Q: What are the benefits of such a programme?
The benefits are numerous. Firstly, it bridges the gap between theory and practice, allowing students to gain practical skills and knowledge that are highly valued by employers. It also helps students develop a professional network and industry contacts, enhancing their future career prospects. Additionally, the programme promotes personal and professional growth, as students learn to adapt to real challenges and work collaboratively with industry professionals.
Q: Twelve students from the Pretoria and Rosebank campuses are on their way to Mauritius for WIL programme placements. How did that come about?
The opportunity for 12 third-year students from the two campuses to embark on WIL experiences in Mauritius came about through our commitment to providing our students with a well-rounded education that includes exposure to international experiences. Having already been exposed to the South African culinary scene during their studies, we recognised the importance of offering them the chance to gain international experience.
This not only broadens their culinary skills but also exposes them to different cultures, cuisines and industry practices. Through our established partnerships with prestigious hotels in Mauritius, we were able to secure WIL placements for 12 of our students. These partnerships were built over time through networking, collaboration and a proven track record of successful WIL placements. The three hotels in Mauritius understand the value of providing international exposure to aspiring culinary professionals and were eager to welcome our students into their establishments.
How were the students chosen?
The selection process involves careful consideration and assessment of our students’ performance, dedication, and potential. For the specific WIL programme in Mauritius, we selected third-year students who have demonstrated exceptional skills and commitment throughout their studies. In addition to academic performance, we also considered factors such as attendance, punctuality, teamwork and a strong work ethic.
These qualities are essential for success in a professional culinary environment. To ensure that the selected students were a good fit for the WIL programme and the prestigious hotels in Mauritius, they also underwent interviews conducted by the hotels’ HR managers and executive chefs, which allowed the hotels to assess the students’ technical skills, professionalism and their ability to adapt to new environments. By combining our own evaluation and the input from industry professionals, we aimed to select students who not only have the necessary culinary skills but also possess the right attitude and potential to excel in an international work setting.
Where will the 12 students be working?
Six students have been assigned to the JW Marriott Hotel, four to the Lux Belle Mare Hotel and two will work at the Constance Prince Maurice Hotel. The allocation of students is based on various factors, including the requirements and capacity of each hotel and the specific learning opportunities available at each location. By providing a diverse range of placements, we aim to ensure that our students gain exposure to different work environments and experiences during their time on the island.
How long does the placement last and what will the students be tasked with?
Placement is for five months, during which time they will work in various sections of the hotels’ culinary departments, including the hot kitchen, cold section and pastry. In the hot kitchen, they will be exposed to the fast-paced environment of a professional kitchen and learn to handle high-temperature cooking techniques and prepare a variety of hot dishes.
This experience will help them develop their skills in areas such as grilling, sautéing and braising. In the cold section they will get practical experience in preparing cold appetizers, salads and other chilled dishes and learn about food storage, handling and presentation techniques as well as the art of creating visually appealing cold plates.
In the pastry section, the students will delve into the world of desserts and baked goods and learn about pastry techniques such as dough preparation, cake decorating and dessert plating. This experience will allow them to develop their creativity and precision in crafting top class pastries and desserts. Throughout this time, the students will work under the guidance and supervision of experienced chefs and mentors who will provide them with valuable feedback and support.
Has there been a WIL programme with Mauritius hotels before?
No, this is our first time placing students in Mauritius under the WIL programme. But our experience in facilitating international placements and supporting students in gaining valuable work experience abroad has been well-established and we have a track record of connecting our students with internship opportunities and job placements in various locations around the world including the US and Dubai. We also currently have over 950 placements in top hotels across South Africa.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We are incredibly proud of the opportunities our students have been given to participate in the WIL programme in Mauritius. This experience will greatly enrich their learning journey, enhance their culinary skills and provide them with a unique perspective on the hospitality industry, enabling them to adapt to different culinary styles and cultural influences. We are very grateful to our partners in Mauritius for their support and collaboration in making these placements possible.