Dumbleton Hall upskills workforce via apprenticeships
As the appetite for eating out continues to grow, the hospitality industry finds it increasingly difficult to find the skilled employees needed to work in both the kitchen and front of house. Many in the hospitality sector are spending thousands every year on agency chefs, as well as finding new managers through agency recruitment companies; but there is a better solution.
For small and medium sized businesses the costs of agency chefs and recruitment agencies are crippling; adversely affecting the bottom line as businesses are reluctant to pass these costs on to customers who have the power to go elsewhere. Individuals who are willing to develop and train whilst they work, such as apprentices (which are available to both new and existing staff), are a great solution to mitigate problems caused by recruitment and staffing issues.
Dumbleton Hall is an impressive, traditional Cotswold Manor House set in 19 acres of private gardens and woodland with a private lake. With its peaceful setting and spectacular views over the Cotswolds hills and across the Vale of Evesham, the hotel’s picturesque location and range of facilities make it an ideal venue for leisure breaks, weddings, conferences and more.
We caught up with Gavin Dron, Director of Operations at Classic Hotels, to discuss how apprenticeships provided by Gloucestershire College have worked for the business:
“As an industry we are finding it increasingly difficult to find the skilled employees we need to work in both the kitchen and the managerial sides of the business. We are spending thousands a year on agency chefs and most often have to find new managers through agency recruitment companies. For a small business, these costs are crippling and adversely affecting the bottom line, as we cannot pass these costs on to customers, as they will simply stay elsewhere where such costs are being absorbed and profit margins reduced.”
Gavin went on to talk about how their apprentices have benefited the company:
“We have two apprentices with Gloucestershire College, and I think they add value to both departments they are working in… They assist in long-term recruitment issues, and provide the opportunity of succession planning, as they could progress to fill new vacancies as their skills increase. The mix of practical skills acquired in the workplace, as well as the theoretical skills acquired through studying modules at the College, ensure that the apprentice has a well-rounded skill set.”
Dumbleton Hall currently employs two apprentices: Megan Beale and Mathew Bryant. Megan is working as an Apprentice Chef; she has completed her Level 2 apprenticeship, and has now progressed on to the Level 3 at Dumbleton Hall. Mathew was already working part-time at the hotel before he progressed on to the role of Apprentice Manager.
Mathew said: “I chose to do an apprenticeship because I wanted to develop my skills at my place of work, and I’ve always wanted to work in the hospitality industry. The best thing about my apprenticeship is the fact that I get to work with a great team doing a job that I really enjoy. It has allowed me to understand the different departments within the hotel and make progress within each one. The College aspect of the apprenticeship has developed my understanding of the theoretical side of management”.
Megan added: “I was already working as a kitchen assistant when I chose to do an apprenticeship. I had done college courses in the past, and found that I learned more through hands-on training rather than being in a classroom; therefore the apprenticeship programme is a perfect route for my career. My apprenticeship has provided me with further knowledge, and allowed me to be more enlightened and able to progress quickly in my role. My GC Assessor has been patient and adapted the work scheme to fit around menus, and I feel I have started to become more confident as a Chef”.
Retaining existing staff and improving their skill set is fundamental; the most successful organisations tend to have a lower turnover of people, which also means the same staff and friendly faces every time for the customer. They are buying into your people and the experience they provide as much as they are the food.
GC Business Consultant Shelley White added: “At Gloucestershire College we are pleased to support a plethora of hospitality businesses to train and upskill their workforce through apprenticeships. By training your staff, you can add value to your organisation and drive future profitability. Dumbleton Hall is an outstanding example of how hospitality apprenticeships can assist in long term recruitment issues and succession planning.”
For more information on Hospitality apprenticeships at Gloucestershire College, visit: http://www.gloscol.ac.uk/business-hub and contact the Business Hub