Whole Foods Intends to Bring Back Culinary Apprenticeships

(PatriotWise.com) — Whole Foods Markets plans to add at least two new culinary apprenticeships to its career development programs that help store employees earn more money by training to become cake decorators, butchers, and certified cheese professionals, Axios reported.

The newest apprenticeships include pizza-making and produce specialists. The company plans to later add an apprenticeship in fishmongering.

While most supermarket chains prioritize management training as the path to career advancement, with its apprenticeship programs, Whole Foods is offering employees a different, more creative path.

Its apprenticeships are paid positions that allow employees to earn money while learning on the job. For most apprenticeships, no experience is required.

Cathy Strange, the company’s “ambassador of food culture” who has worked for Whole Foods for 32 years, told Axios that Whole Foods Markets “have the most certified cheese professionals in the world.”

Strange, who was put in charge of overseeing the apprenticeship programs by Whole Foods CEO Jason Buechel, said one of the company’s “four core pillars” is to “invest in our team members’ development.”

Whole Foods’ apprenticeship programs involve time-consuming, intensive training.

The butcher’s apprenticeship is divided into two 6-month phases that combine training and on-the-job experience.

To become one of its certified cheese professionals, apprentices train for 4,000 hours (or 2 years) and must pass an exam from the American Cheese Society. Candidates also have to visit the farms of Whole Foods’ cheese-making partners.

In the end, becoming a certified cheese professional means earning more money and broadening career options with the company.

While the details of its upcoming pizza-making apprenticeship are still being hammered out, much of the training will focus on learning to stretch the company’s proprietary dough, according to Jeff Turnas, the Senior Vice President of Culinary.

Turnas said the pizza-making apprenticeship is one “that’s got some art to it” that anyone with proper training in stretching the dough will be able to do.

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