Indianapolis, IN-based American Senior Communities recently launched a culinary apprenticeship program to help create a pipeline of workers to address an area where staffing vacancies frequently arise in the industry.

The one-year paid internship, open to anyone aged 16 or more years, is recognized by the Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship program, unveiled in February. At the time, the Labor Department announced grant funding totaling $113 million to pay for the programs. The provider’s training program also is approved by the Indiana Department of Health.

“At American Senior Communities, we take pride in creating a pleasurable dining experience for our residents prepared each day by a highly skilled team of culinary experts,” Community Talent Relationship Manager Susan Ford told the McKnight’s Business Daily. “As we seek to grow and expand our culinary team, our goal in creating the culinary apprentice program was to provide a practical career pathway for those with a passion for food and who have a heart to serve seniors.”

The program premiered at Rosegate Assisted Living in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

“The program will be offered at other ASC locations in the near future,” Ford said. “We are in the initial stages of receiving applicants and scheduling interviews. …Applicants will be accepted year-round and should consider this apprenticeship with the intention of a one-year commitment to complete the entire program.”

The culinary apprenticeship provides in-person, on-the-job training combined with computer module education. At the end of the program, apprentices will receive a professional culinary patch and certification recognized by the culinary industry.

Through this offering, apprentices learn their craft in three states — first as a culinary aide, then as a prep cook and then as a cook — working alongside ASC’s culinary professionals. Students will learn about kitchen safety, types of diets, and food safety and preparation, as well as lessons in fine dining, etiquette and food presentation.

The culinary apprenticeship program is tailored to the senior healthcare profession, according to American Senior Communities. Graduates will have the potential opportunity to work their way into a culinary position with the provider.