From education to employment

Barry cooks up tasty career

Instilling key employability skills required for today’s demanding workforce is a key priority on South Eastern Regional College’s curricula. And to illustrate how their efforts are paying off, a past student-chef from the college has landed a high-flying career as head chef at one of Crossgar’s best loved bar and restaurants, The Villager.

Barry Holland, aged 41 from Downpatrick retrained after the downturn in the economy. Having always worked in the hospitality sector, Barry decided to return to education to follow his passion of becoming a chef.

Barry returned to college at the age of 33 and enrolled to the full-time professional cookery course after speaking with course tutor Michael Gillies.

Barry explains: “I was elated when I was offered the role. I am so grateful to the staff at SERC for the high quality training which has opened up this great opportunity and enhanced my practical abilities and my own confidence. I learnt a lot whilst at College and I’d like thank all the tutors for pushing me in the right direction and particularly my tutor Michael Gillies. I would recommend studying at the College to anyone who wanted to retrain or up skill.

SERC Professional Cookery tutor Michael Gillies commented: “At SERC we are passionate about finding and supporting talent within the hospitality sector regardless of age, giving them an opportunity into the industry. Barry is a great example of how students can embrace what professional cookery and the further education sector has to offer and directly benefit from it.”

Michael was a real inspiration and set a great example to his students recently this year when he won a City and Guilds Medal of Excellence award for his teaching. 

SERC provides a range of full and part-time hospitality, catering and professional cookery courses designed to give students ‘the edge’. To enrol or to find out how SERC can help you ‘get the edge’ call 0345 600 7555, visit or find us on Facebook, search: South Eastern Regional College.

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