In 2014, the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Hospitality Institute (EOCFHI) opened as a classroom-only setting. Recently, the Institute has relaunched as one of the province’s largest hands-on training and learning facilities.
Located in Norquest College’s downtown campus, the EOCFHI features industry-grade equipment in a state-of-the-art lab to give students real working knowledge of the hospitality industry. EOCFHI also provides remote-learning opportunities in Alberta, including training for First Nations communities.
Willard Lefthand is a former Foundations of Cooking student who trained at the EOCFHI during his time at NorQuest. Today he is a fulltime employee, working in the field of his study.
“This program truly changed so many aspects of my life. I have opportunities now that I did not believe I could have before because I did not have the confidence to pursue them,” says Lefthand. “If you have the opportunity to take this program, do it and don’t look back.”
Brad Smoliak is an Edmonton chef, culinary author, TV personality and a program developer for EOCFHI’s Foundations of Cooking course. As the relaunched Institute also functions as a test facility for major food processing brands, Smoliak remarked, “This (kitchen) is a great non-partisan location for research and food developers to showcase their products. This is very beneficial for Edmonton.”
Just a few of EOCFHI’s employment partners include: Rogers Place, Chateau Lacombe, Edmonton Inn, Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino, and Rocky Mountain Resort. Greg Allen, EOCFHI workplace facilitator and instructor, commented, “Personally I have never felt so connected to the Edmonton community. I am proud to be associated with so many great agencies that are also out there trying to make a difference. It is great to work alongside these agencies and connect the missing pieces between skill building, guidance, and employment.”
NorQuest College focuses on providing education that is readily applied in practical ways in the work force, and that meets the evolving demands of today’s employers. To this end, NorQuest College actively seeks feedback across all industry sectors so that the education it provides is ideally matched to employer’s needs.
“Together, we are transforming lives by providing people, many of whom are under-represented in the workforce, with the skills needed to get a job … jobs that help strengthen Alberta’s economy,” said NorQuest College president & CEO, Dr. Jodi L. Abbott.
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation is a proud partner of Norquest College. With the Foundation’s support, the Institute has trained more than 1,000 students for hospitality careers. NorQuest College’s hospitality programs include: Building Service Worker Training, Flight Attendant, Cook and Culinary Training, and Hospitality Management Professional Development.
A statement on NorQuest College’s website quotes, “For people beginning their career, we build skills and confidence in our learners to help them support employer needs. For people who already have a career in the [hospitality] sector, we offer professional development through practical skills training in accounting and finance, sales and marketing, rooms division operations, and food and beverage management. For people who would like to participate in employment in other ways, we can prepare you for a rewarding career as a building service worker and as a flight attendant.