The first 21 apprentices in the province’s new food and beverage server trade will be recognized at the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Sept. 25 luncheon at Aviano Restaurant. The food and beverage service apprenticeship is the first recognized apprenticeship trade for front-line tourism employees in the province. The Whistler program, and another on Vancouver Island, are the pilot projects and will be the models for a whole range of professional apprenticeships in the tourism industry. The food and beverage service apprenticeship was created to recognize tourism sector employment as a viable career requiring a high level of knowledge and skill. Occupational standards and national occupational certification developed by the Canadian tourism industry are at the core of the apprenticeship program. The program is part of a complete revamping of apprenticeship programs that the Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour (now Education, Skills and Training) has gone through in the last couple of years. Like any apprenticeship program, the food and beverage service apprenticeship includes a mixture of class time and on-the-job experience. The food and beverage service program requires 90 per cent on-the-job training and 10 per cent classroom technical training. Tests and a final evaluation are also part of the program. Vancouver Community College provided the classroom training, in Whistler, while a number of local restaurants committed to the program by forming apprenticeship partnerships with selected employees. The local graduates will spearhead the next apprenticeship initiative in Whistler, where up to 100 apprentices will participate in the program by next March. Apprentices will receive industry certification through the Pacific Rim Institute of Tourism and government certification through the Ministry of Labour. "Our goal is that eventually everyone working here will have gone through the apprenticeship program," says Whistler Chamber of Commerce Project Co-ordinator Bernie Lalor-Morton.