Learning about zi char
Institute of Technical Education students enjoy unique internships
While his friends from similar courses interned at swanky hotels and restaurants, Mr Toh Jia Ming chose to work for an old-school seafood zi char restaurant.
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West final-year student, who is studying for his Nitec in Asian culinary arts, told The New Paper: "I wanted to learn to manage a kitchen at a zi char restaurant and enhance my wok skills.
"My friends wanted to see if I would get fired or would pass."
Mr Toh, 18, added that he had turned down an opportunity to intern at a Japanese restaurant.
Over the last three months, he has been working up a sweat in the hot and cramped kitchens of Keng Eng Kee Seafood - first at its Pandan Gardens branch, then at its main branch in Bukit Merah - preparing vegetables and chopping meat for the chefs.
ITE deputy chief executive officer (industry)Aw York Bin said 70 per cent of courses currently offer enhanced internships, which last between three and six months.
By 2020, all courses are expected to be on the Enhanced Internship Programme.
Mr Aw said: "Under the SkillsFuture movement, ITE has established the Enhanced Internship framework to give students the opportunity to link theoretical concepts acquired in the classroom with work-based learning at a professional work environment."
Mr Paul Liew, operations manager at Keng Eng Kee Seafood, 36, said it was the first time the restaurant has partnered a school for an internship programme, so it was a chance for his team to learn as well.
He added: "Everyone thought an intern would not be much of a help in the kitchen, but Mr Toh showed that he can be a vital part of the kitchen team."
Though he was mentally prepared for his internship, Mr Toh was still surprised by the speed at which the kitchen in Bukit Merah operated.
"On my first day at the Bukit Merah branch, I found myself blanking out because I did not know the workflow in the kitchen well enough, but now I am starting to find where I fit in," he said.