Licensees should embrace this enthusiasm, said training providers, claiming that better staff training leads to better service for customers and a better bottom line.
Stella Callaghan, project manager for customer service programme Glasgow Welcomes, said operators in the leisure sector are now recognising the “business benefits of ensuring their teams have up to date skills and knowledge”.
Callaghan’s view was supported by Gayle Johnstone of Tennent’s Training Academy, who said she has seen “lots of companies upping their game” when it comes to investing in staff.
“Courses such as the City & Guilds Award in Professional Bartending, the BIIAB Level 2 Award in Beer and Cellar Quality and the WSET courses are proving popular with our customers,” said Johnstone.
Chris Jowsey of pubco Star Pubs & Bars said operators should “encourage staff training at all levels”.
“Today’s pub staff are tomorrow’s licensees and everyone working in our pubs is an ambassador for the industry,” said Jowsey, adding that staff training is an “essential element of ensuring good customer service and high standards which equate to sales”.
Wholesaler Inverarity Morton currently offers free wine training to its customers and director of wine sales Guy Chatfield told SLTN that he believes well-trained staff are not only “generally more confident”, but also more likely to stick around.
“Operators who support their employees with ongoing developmental learning generally find staff turnover drops,” said Chatfield.
The growing focus on training has coincided with changing attitudes towards careers in hospitality, said Joanne Worrall, director at Twist Training.
“These are coming not only from higher levels but also staff asking what the next step is as they strive to progress and achieve more within the industry,” she said.
“It is not only the larger companies that are implementing management training programmes; with government grants available for smaller businesses this is making it more accessible across the spectrum of businesses.”
The shift in attitudes towards staff development has been happening for several years, according to Louise Ramsay of DG Training.
“I have seen a change in the attitude of staff over the last five years,” said Ramsay.
“They [staff] now know that they have a legal responsibility in relation to the service of alcohol and the fact that they now are qualified to carry out their role increases both morale and pride.”
And these changing perceptions have led to a more professional view of the licensed trade overall, according to Paul Chase, director of CPL Training.
“There is a growing recognition of the licensed retail sector as one that provides jobs and careers – as opposed to something you end up doing or just work in whilst you’re a student,” he said.
Training can also help to keep an operator’s team motivated, said Hazel Tomkins of Urban Training.
Tomkins said that in addition to improving customer service, staff training “establishes a sense of ownership in their job and underpins an employer’s commitment to providing the very best of service”.
Frazer Grant of ABV Training agreed that training can be “a long term motivator” and added that “if your team are motivated then they sell and provide guests with great experiences”.
“People are seeing the opportunities within this dynamic industry and are willing to ask how to get there,” said Grant.
“What has also been beneficial is that many of the larger hospitality companies are actually publishing a defined career path for people within their organisations.
“Potential workers now see the industry as a profession with support for those interested in taking their ambitions further.”
The licensed trade isn’t the only sector looking for talented people, of course, and Mike Wroe of the Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance reminded operators of the competition for staff from other industries.
“Any business that can offer ongoing training, qualifications and recognition will find itself receiving plenty of applications from high quality candidates,” said Wroe.