You’re hired, say apprentice hotels

Taking part in training scheme pays off for hospitality businesses

OPERATORS of hospitality and catering businesses have been talking up the benefits of taking part in Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Hoteliers and suppliers gave the scheme, backed by Skills Development Scotland, their support as this year’s event got underway on May 21.
Lachlan MacLean, manager of the Dark Island Hotel in Linicleat on Benbecula, said investing in staff through Modern Apprenticeships has paid dividends for his business.
“We’re a small hotel on an island community so good service from properly-trained staff is essential,” he said. “We have four Modern Apprentices working as part of our 20-strong team and all of them are doing very well.
“Being part of the Modern Apprenticeship programme, supported by Skills Development Scotland, has been a big boost for us as it allows us to train our staff to meet the needs of our business.
“We’re delighted with the results.”
Alex Wicks completed his apprenticeship at the hotel, in conjunction with Cothrom Training, last year and now works as a chef in the business. “Working and studying at the same time can be pretty exhausting but it is worth it,” he said.
“I felt like I was part of the team from the beginning and I learned a great deal. Everyone was very supportive.”
The New Lanark Mill Hotel, which took on three apprentices, is also said to have reaped similar rewards.
General manager John Stirrat said taking part had helped the Lanarkshire business record one of its most successful years to date.
“In this business, properly-trained staff are essential,” he said.
“If you don’t have them your customer service suffers and people simply don’t come back.
“Our investment in training has really paid off as we have enjoyed one of our best years ever.
“There are so many benefits to an employer of taking part in the Modern Apprenticeship programme – it cuts recruitment costs, improves standards and gives people who work hard a real boost in terms of employability and skills development.”
Craig Steen, who has been promoted to restaurant supervisor at New Lanark Mill Hotel to cover maternity leave, described the training he received under his apprenticeship as “invaluable”.
“Being able to gain a qualification while you do the job is a fantastic way to learn,” he said.
“It’s hard work but it’s the best way to see what it’s actually like behind the scenes of a restaurant or hotel.”
It’s not only hotels and restaurants which report positive experiences – the owners of fishmongers Jollys in Orkney and Welch’s in Edinburgh also testified to the benefits of the apprenticeship scheme. John McClelland, chair of Skills Development Scotland, said: “It has never been more important for businesses across Scotland to grow and develop a skilled workforce.”