A RESTAURATEUR who is relaunching his business in Oxford has teamed up with Students to give them a taste of the catering trade.

Max Mason, owner of the Big Bang which is due to open in the Oxford Castle complex by the end of the month, has teamed up with Oxford and Cherwell Valley College (OCVC) to offer students hands-on experience of working in a busy restaurant. It is a non-paid work experience scheme.

Up to five hospitality and catering students, aged 16 to 20, will work front of house at the restaurant, with a further two employed in the kitchen.

A new intake of students will be taken on each academic year. Among the first students to sign up are Kieran Burden and Tony Idiculla. The pair, both 20, are doing NVQ Level 3 in hospitality, supervision and leadership.

Mr Burden, from Witney, said: “This will be really good experience. It means we can put our training into practice and gain a real understanding of what it will be like when we have finished our course and start to work in these types of establishments.

“It is difficult to get any sort of job at the moment so you need something that helps you to stand out from the crowd.”

Mr Idiculla, from Headington, added: “We currently work in the college restaurant but I expect working at the Big Bang will give us experience of working at a faster pace in a busy restaurant environment. It will be good to put what we learn into action.”

Mr Mason said: “This benefits each of us hugely. We can also educate students about not only making and serving food, but how an independent restaurant can ensure sustainability is the top priority.”

Sally Dicketts, principal of OCVC, said: “As a vocational training provider we are committed to helping our students develop the skills they need to secure good employment.

“There is no substitute for working in a real business environment and we are looking forward to seeing students flourish through this venture.”

Meanwhile, OCVC is inviting employers to a special seminar designed to link the world of work more closely with further education.

Making our Students More Employable is a free event by the college’s Community Interest Company, SweetFE, which has been set up to encourage students to turn business ideas into commercial ventures.

The seminar takes place on October 11 at the college in Oxpens Road, Oxford, at 6pm.

To book, see www.sweetfe.co.uk/  upcoming-events OCVC has been shortlisted for an award recognising how it helps students develop entrepreneurial skills.

The college will find out if it has been successful in The Times Educational Supplement FE Awards at a ceremony in November. It recently launched a new curriculum model built around a six-week programme to helping students experience real-life business activities.