Steven from Southern Regional College is part of the Squad UK Cooking team. Read on to find out how taking part in our international development programme has boosted his culinary skills, putting him on the path for his dream career.
Steven Megaw is a great example of how finding the right way to learn gets results. “I struggled with nearly everything in school but in my personal programme I was given the opportunity to do a day release in catering at Newry Southern Regional College. It was brilliant and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think more schools should offer this opportunity.”
Steven was never in doubt that he wanted to be a professional chef. “I’ve always loved cooking, it’s just something that I’ve always wanted to do, I find it so rewarding. My mum really inspired me, she’s a qualified chef too and helped me to see what my career would be like.”
What Steven didn’t know was how important WorldSkills UK would prove to be for his career. “I hadn’t heard about WorldSkills UK until my tutor encouraged me to enter. I first competed in Bangor Northern Ireland in 2019 and went on to compete in the National Finals at the NEC Birmingham, where I won a Bronze Medal.”
There are many advantages for competitors in taking part in WorldSkills Competitions. Steven placed “Working with my training manager and completing assessments which helped me learn so much,” at the top of his personal list. It’s not just about the winning though as Steven says,
“I have learned that WorldSkills UK Competitions take so much effort and dedication and what you learn in the process is rewarding in itself.”
Showcasing his skills in front of a huge audience was another achievement. “My biggest challenge was competing at the National Finals held as part of WorldSkills UK LIVE at the NEC Birmingham, attracting thousands of spectators. . On the first day I found the size of the event overwhelming, but I managed to overcome my worries and keep cooking.” Steven’s commitment as well as his skill set paid off not only with a Bronze Medal but also being selected to be part of Squad UK. “I couldn’t believe I’d been chosen, I was just shocked!”
In Squad UK members undergo the intensive skill set and mindset training which are essential elements of WorldSkills UK’s unique offering, creating well-rounded high-performing young professionals who can take their skills back to the workforce and preparing them to go into selection process for Team UK. These are opportunities that Steven is making the most of. “The best thing so far has been working with the others in my culinary arts team, learning so much from them, and being able to meet so many new people.”
Asked what he would say to someone thinking about entering a WorldSkills UK Competition Steven has this advice, “I would say go for it 100 percent it’s so rewarding, it’s hard work but you will never look back.”
Aside from competing Steven has his ambitions firmly fixed on developing his career in the workplace.
“I believe taking part in WorldSkills UK Competitions has developed my culinary skills and I’m able to take all my recipes with me into the future. I would love to become a head chef and one day possibly own my own business.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the hospitality sectors among others and Steven thinks we will have to get used to a new normal. “I believe that Covid-19 is having a massive impact on the catering industry I don’t think it will ever be the same again but I’m so thankful to be a chef with a secure job at the moment and my employer has been very helpful.”
With a bright future ahead of him and the ongoing support of the WorldSkills UK community, Steven is set to be a valued employee and a role model to other young people joining the profession.
Head Chef and Catering Manager at Milestone Rathfriland and Loft 56 and Steven’s Line Manager Cahill Grant says, “Steven embodies everything a young developing chef should be. He has a first-class willingness to learn, approaches every task with respect and the correct manner.
“With the WorldSkills UK Competitions, Steven is becoming more confident and competent in the professional kitchen. I can see a very bright future for Steven in the culinary world.”