From education to employment

Masterchef winner and Minister welcome #LoveScotlandsColleges campaign


College experience helped make me a TV cooking winner says Masterchef Gary (@Gmacchef)

The first National Chef of Scotland today credited his college experiences for giving him the tools which made him a TV cooking winner.

Launching the #LoveScotlandsColleges campaign today [Monday November 29], Gary Maclean, the 2016 winner of BBC’s Masterchef: The Professionals explained why he has loved his college experiences as both a student and a lecturer so much.

“I always knew I wanted to be a chef and going to the College of Food and Drink (later incorporated into City of Glasgow College) was really important to me. I learned so much and immediately found an incredible network of people around me. I met my wife in my very first class and I’ve friends to this day who I met in that same class, some of whom I’ve employed and some of whom employed me.”

And Gary’s love for the college experience has continued as he is now a lecturer for catering students at City of Glasgow.

“College wasn’t just about the obvious learning, it provided so much more, particularly people skills. It also gave me the confidence to go on to graduate from university.”

While working in restaurants, Gary took eight years of twilight classes before emerging as Young Chef of the Year. And when he was given the opportunity to lecture firstly part-time and later full-time he didn’t hesitate.

“When I began lecturing full-time we focused a lot on awards and skills and, as a result our students won dozens of awards across the UK and beyond. I think that’s what gave me the confidence to apply for Masterchef. I knew that, by working with my students, I had an award-winning repertoire of dishes in my locker.

“I would always advise people to consider college as a first-choice route. It provides real skills for employment. It really is a direct route to the workplace.”

#LoveScotlandsColleges is a week-long campaign aimed at celebrating and raising awareness of the contribution the sector makes to communities and the wider economy.

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training said:

“Colleges make an exceptional contribution to Scotland’s economy by equipping students with the skills, training and experience they need for today’s workplaces.

“The further opportunities they offer for lifelong learning make them an incredible resource for our communities, our businesses and the nation as a whole. #LoveScotlandsColleges is an excellent initiative which rightly celebrates and champions the role they play.”

A recent Scots student satisfaction survey found that, despite the pandemic, 89% of full-time and 92% of part-time further education students said they were satisfied with their course experience, while 87% of further education and 82% of higher education students said they believed their time at college had helped them develop knowledge and skills for the workplace.

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland said:

“Our colleges are the first-choice destination for hundreds of thousands of students every year, delivering the skills and training needed to prepare them for the workplace.

“So many college graduates such as Gary Maclean report that the learning experience they enjoyed provided them with the platform and confidence to go on to continuing career success. It’s no wonder that so many students, and the staff who work with them, genuinely love their experience.”

Jim Metcalfe, Chief Executive, College Development Network added:

“Scotland’s colleges allow our students to achieve their potential and provide them with all the tools they need to proceed into fulfilling careers. It’s no wonder so many of our graduates are so positive about the outcomes and experiences they enjoyed at college.

“Hopefully, the #LoveScotlandsColleges campaign persuades more people to consider the extraordinary opportunities offered in campuses across Scotland.”

The #LoveScotlandsColleges campaign runs Monday 29 November – Friday 3 December.

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