NECAT Launches Advisory Council with Top Employers

Something that always stands out to those just learning about NECAT is that every student of ours has the opportunity to receive multiple job offers and have their pick of positions. Our graduates are well trained and the jobs are out there – Boston’s current unemployment rate of 2.4% is the lowest ever recorded and the restaurant industry is booming.

Every week, yet another food establishment reaches out to NECAT in its desperate search for trained kitchen workers. Whether it’s a flashy international group that is opening a new restaurant in the Seaport district, a century-old hotel in Copley Square, or one of the many kitchens serving thousands of university students – demand far outpaces supply in Boston’s kitchens.

NECAT is able to take advantage of the current market and be highly selective about the employers it introduces to its students. Our preferred partners have recently been brought together to form an Employer Advisory Council. Members are committed to NECAT’s mission and values, and to providing input into how NECAT can improve its instruction.

A student speaking with a recruitment specialist from Whole Foods.

The inaugural members include Whole Foods, Sodexo, Hebrew Senior Living, SRV and Encore Boston Harbor. These employers are engaging new tactics to remain competitive – they offer comprehensive benefits, pay living wages, support their employees, employ those with limited work histories and many hire individuals with criminal records. The goal of NECAT’s Employer Advisory Council is to better prepare NECAT graduates for the demands of the industry to ensure they secure and retain better jobs, earn at the top of the range and more rapidly progress in their careers.

“Whole Foods is a purpose driven company with the intent to nourish people and the planet,” said Stephanie Krishnan, a member of the council and recruiter for the company’s North Atlantic region. “We align with NECAT’s employer advisory council in empowering others to be the servant leaders of tomorrow focusing on a holistic approach to nourish oneself for future successes.”

The food services industry has one of the highest rates of employee turnover in the private sector – with some estimates as high as 80%. This is a huge cost to employers. Leading explanations for why staff leave their jobs include lack of training and unmet expectations related to job responsibilities. Together, NECAT and its Employer Advisory Council are working to address these challenges.

NECAT staff and members of our Employer Advisory Council working together.

NECAT has already begun implementing some of the ideas brought to light by this group through curriculum refinement and by more deeply engaging council members in program delivery through guest lecturing, mock interviewing, culinary “stages” and special events. We want to ensure that our students graduate with strong core skills and that they are familiar with an employer before committing to a permanent job.

Next, we will be launching a more structured support program for recently hired graduates, initially targeted at the first 90 days of employment. We know that once they have passed this critical milestone, employees remain in their positions at a higher rate. At the same time, we will continue to work more closely with the employers so that NECAT can be alerted if  one of our graduates is facing challenges – in or out of the workplace.

These strategies are helping NECAT transform into a “next generation” job training organization that engages employers throughout every aspect of the program. We are providing a pipeline of trained talent to some of the top food service employers in the region, and we are helping our graduates launch culinary careers that will lead to long-term stability.

If your company is interested in partnering with NECAT, please contact Martha Leahy at or (617) 442-3600 x720.