In the hospitality arena, there’s a lot to be said for learning on the job. But when it comes to implementing best practice systems, processes and product knowledge, little can beat a continuing formal education. Chris Sheedy reports
When group training organisation HTN announced a pilot program for third-year apprentices in the hospitality field to do some small-business management training, there were just 15 spots available in the fledgling course. It was no surprise to HTN’s chief executive officer Michael Bennett when over 150 applications flowed in, from a pool of around 400 apprentices.
“There is a real appetite in the industry for this sort of training,” Bennett says. “There is certainly a need for more ongoing training, from my perspective, in that every second apprentice who walks through our doors tells us that they want to open their own restaurant. The Certificate 3 in commercial cookery is very technical but doesn’t really equip them with the business nous that they need to run a restaurant.”
Elton La Porte, trainer support officer with Institute of Training + Further Education (iTFE), says people from all backgrounds and walks of life seek training within the hospitality industry.
“It can be anyone, such as school leavers looking to gain trade qualifications, as well as university students who want to broaden their opportunities, to those who wish to re-enter the workforce and gain current industry standard skills,” explains La Porte. “Then, of course, we get experienced industry workers who need to update qualifications with accredited certificates such as Responsible Service of Alcohol, earn a Diploma of Hospitality, or simply further their education to broaden their existing knowledge.”
It is this further education, the development of one’s career prospects through formal training, that can pay real dividends for both the person attending the course and for their employer, La Porte says. Sending staff to quality courses that expand their knowledge and increase their employability is an effective way to retain good staff while bringing new skills into your business.
“Training is essential,” La Porte says. “Products, trends and technology within the industry are constantly changing and evolving. Training, and developing the staff skill sets, ensures quality standards are consistently met according to the needs of guest expectations.
“Training staff also provides opportunities for professional development and it keeps their industry knowledge current. For example, there have been many changes in the coffee industry over the years—therefore standards and expectations have increased. Training staff also creates a morale boost and a bond between the staff member and the employer investing in them.”
Bennett agrees, saying businesses that utilise formal training well always make the training very relevant to their own business. “If I reflect on some of the research we have done with our own apprentices—when we look into what was their key motivator—the number-one factor has always been quality of training,” he says. “That is what they wanted to focus on. It was not even about money. Their number-one desire was for quality training.”
So, the reason that training should be so important to individuals and to businesses is because it is ultimately about creating better outcomes, Bennett says. If your job is to undertake a certain set of duties or tasks in your workplace, there is invariably somebody out there who can train you to do it more efficiently and effectively.
“We need to embrace the notion of lifelong learning because it not only helps businesses, but it is also a way to keep people enthusiastic and motivated about what they are doing,” Bennett says.
“Training is unfortunately often seen as an expense and not an investment. If people can become more efficient and effective in their roles, not only from a technical perspective but from the way they feel about their jobs, then that is a very worthwhile investment.”