Robinsons has announced plans to launch a series of apprenticeships, in partnership with Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and quality assured professional training providers Charnwood, to meet the needs of modern retailing. The Cheshire brewery has spent the last 12 months developing the offer with licensees and will aim to have 130 candidates on the programme by the middle of 2014.
“The first thing we did was ask licensees is what sort of staff development would be most useful to them,” Director of Marketing David Bremner told us, “and the response was consistent; bar staff service skills, chef development and assistant managers. We then met with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and their support has been overwhelming including them funding a consultant for 18 months to get the whole programme up and running and cost neutral. When I meet with colleagues in other regional brewers they are amazed at the support we have had and the way the rules have been adapted to meet the needs of our sector. The Bii too, could not have been more supportive and we are jointly developing plans for the next phase.”
Apprenticeship consultant Beverley Ashton has run focus groups with licensees, co-ordinated with other local pub companies and regional brewers. She has also run the tender process to narrow down the 29 training providers to Charnwood who will provide the training for those in the hospitality sector in the North West who wish to join with Robinsons.
“Charnwood’s pedigree came shining through and they have some great people ready to get started on this,” commented Beverley. “We have also bolted on some additional qualifications to add a PLUS to our apprenticeships. There is extra training on Customer Services as we all agreed this is crucial these days, as well as a wine qualification and a personal licence. We have 24 Robinsons apprentices ready to start from just 16 pubs visited so far and we are sure we are going to hit all the targets the Chamber have set us – we even have new licensees who are signing up to get themselves extra training post-induction.”
Initially Robinsons will offer two level two cooking apprenticeships, a level 2 for front of House (Bii licensed hospitality)and a level 3 for management who wish to progress. All courses are expected to take 12 months to complete and are fully funded through GM Chamber EOS (Employer Ownership of Skills) for participating licensees and candidates. Licensees will play a mentoring role with the on-site training being delivered by Charnwood via monthly visits to the pubs.
“There are so many apprenticeships it can be quite confusing,” David explained, “we have started with five to simplify things but we see this as a real career in hospitality and we hope to eventually take some apprentices through to degree level. Working with the Bii and Charnwood we will continually adapt our offering to keep it fresh and relevant. We will be running normal one day and two day courses too for other training needs but this is all part of a bigger process to really raise the bar in the North West for a pub company, brewer, restaurant, hotel or bar that is interested.”
This approach has also attracted the interest of local MPs and David has explained to them the historical difficulties in becoming involved due to the mass of red tape. “We really think we have something here which could be taken to other regions of the country and prove equally successful. Those involved love what we do – running pubs and bars and we want to see the next generation viewing this as a career decision with clear development opportunities and not just a temporary position.”
With around 340 pubs, Robinsons has a vested interest in delivering distinctive training opportunities to young people wishing to work in the hospitality industry in the North West.
“Too often hospitality is overlooked as an industry with progression possibilities,” explains David, “these new apprenticeship schemes will help young people learn skills and responsibilities that will facilitate their next step up the career ladder.”
Testimonial: “We’ve had great success investing in training for our team. We currently have 3 of our 6 chefs and 2 of our FOH team on Apprentice Training Programmes. For me, there are two major benefits for training - lower staff turnover and being attractive as an employer. Not only do we get the best members of staff, we retain them as well. As a business the most fundamental value is 'Consistently Top Notch Customer Service’ - a stable, high performing team helps us to achieve this.” Martin Barnes the George & Dragon, Holmes Chapel, bronze winner of Best Pub and Customer Service Award 2013 – Chester Food, Drink and Lifestyle Festival