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Taking professional certificate at the hotel

Tarek Ahmad Rkieh Sekhni (27) is the first apprentice at Fjordbyen Innkvartering.
Fjordbyen Innkvartering AS has become an apprenticeship company. - It's about social responsibility. Norway needs more specialists, says site manager Ståle Gundersen.

Fjordbyen Innkvartering opened its doors to its first guests at the resort hotel on Brakerøya in Drammen this summer. The company is now a member of OKRIM (the Training Office for tourism, restaurants and food in Vestfold and Buskerud).

In a short time, the new complex hotel has built up its staff. Today, Gundersen has 15 on the payroll. One of the new hires is on an apprenticeship contract. - It shows good attitude and social responsibility. Everyone wants skilled chefs. Then the companies must help take responsibility for education, says general manager Terje Tidemann at OKRIM.

In the kitchen at Fjordbyen Innkvartering, Syrian Tarek Ahmad Rkieh Sekhni (27) is training to be a chef. He is in his second apprenticeship year at the new facility hotel on Brakerøya in Drammen.

There is a lack of skilled workers
– Norway lacks trained chefs. Nightclubs are struggling. Many have reduced opening hours. Critical labor is missing after the corona pandemic. It is then important that those of us who need chefs ourselves also offer apprenticeships, says Gundersen.

The corona pandemic hit hotels and restaurants hard. Many businesses had to close their doors for longer periods. One of the results is a shortage of cooks.
– Many have found work elsewhere after months of layoffs and closed doors, says Gundersen.

Tidemann in OKRIM recommends others to do as Tarek does. - In the field of food, whether we are talking about nutrition chefs, cooks or waiters, we manage to provide apprenticeships and after education the graduates meet a job market that wants them. What we lack are applicants.

Other courses of study
In August, Tarek had his first day of work at the facility hotel. He is starting his second course of study.

When he came to Norway as a political refugee in October 2015, he had one year left of his legal education in his home country.
– If I were to continue my studies for a law degree, I would in many ways have to start over. I didn't know Norwegian, I didn't know enough about Norwegian society, and I wanted to go to work quickly when the residence permit was granted, says Tarek.

For Tarek, like many others, the hotel industry became the way into working life.

– Chef training is for many a stepping stone to tourism, which is the world's fastest growing industry, says Tidemann.

The hotel road to work
– I started as a cleaning and laundry helper at one of the hotels in Drammen, before I entered the cookery course. I haven't regretted a single day. I am very well satisfied. The job is rewarding, content-rich, fun and exciting, says Tarek.

– Why chef?
– Maybe it has something to do with the fact that my father is a chef and ran his own restaurant when I was growing up. For me, choosing again was a natural choice and I have never regretted it. The job is exciting, offers a lot of freedom, a lot of responsibility and a great opportunity to influence.

– Here we work together on everything from composing the menu to cooking the food for the guests. We are a nice group who work together well to deliver as good a result as we manage every single day, says Tarek.