ICING ON THE CAKE: Kyla McQuire has gone into full-time employment as a pastry chef at The Red Barn – thanks to a Gateway Programme at her school, Edgecumbe College, that enabled her to get workplace experience last year. Photo Troy Baker D9547-04

A YOUNG Eastern Bay student is learning career-making skills as a pastry chef – thanks to a workplace programme at her school, Edgecumbe College.

Kyla McQuire was in year 12 at Edgecumbe College last year when she expressed an interest to the Gateway Programme co-ordinator at the college, Nancy Anderson, about her interest in working in the food industry.

“All I had to do was ask my teacher to do Gateway. She asked me what I wanted to do so I said want to do some work based on cafes.”

Kyla says her teacher found her a two-week placement at Red Barn, a popular bakery and cafe just outside of Whakatane on the road to Tauranga.

Usually with the programme, students spend one day a week over a period at the Gateway work placement, but because it was close to the end of the year Kyla did a two-week stint.

“I did a bit of everything. I did dishes and they taught me the till, a bit of bakery,” she says.

She says she learned how a cafe operated. “I loved it here, it is just such a relaxing place and a lot of people come here.

“I ended up asking manager Don [Merrie] for a job and he gave me a bakery job.

“I had two weeks to learn because the previous baker was leaving so I was taking her spot, but I was up for the challenge.”

Kyla is now at The Red Barn full-time as a pastry chef. She has learned plenty of skills from
current baker Iain Foxell.

“Iain helps because he does bread and pastry, he teaches me stuff I don’t know.”

The 16-year-old says her aim was to eventually do a baking apprenticeship.

In the meantime, her days are packed with making scones, muffins, slices and plenty of other delicious treats.

“Most of the food in front cabinet I make,” she says proudly.

“Not many 16-year-olds would be able to make some of that stuff, luckily I had a good teacher to teach me.”

Nancy says she couldn’t be happier for Kyla.

“Her hard work paid off. She was in her final year at college and she staircases straight into full-time work.”

The Gateway Programme, Nancy says, is available for students from year 11 to 13, although there are limited spaces.

“Students who participate in the programme are those who are interested in a career in a particular industry or who want to develop specific skills or gain insights into the work force,” she says.

“The students find work-based learning helps them understand the skills required in their chosen career paths which may help lead on to an apprenticeship, employment or future training courses.

“The learning also enhances personal development and offers exposure to real life workplace situations.”

“We invite employers to make contact if they also would like to support the Gateway Programme and support and pass down knowledge to our youth.”

kathy.forsyth@thebeacon.co.nz