Whitbread academies to bring hospitality to the fore

With one eye on the Jubilee, another on the Olympics and a spare pair looking directly into the future, Whitbread have had the foresight to ramp up the skills of their 35,000 chefs and front of house staff in anticipation of 11 million punters walking through its doors, this year.

In order to cope with the expected increase in demand, the hotelier and restrauteur has invested more than £1M in launching three Food and Beverage Skills Academies across the country. Focused on ensuring that its entire staff has the training and knowledge to serve the millions of visitors to our shores this year the academies will serve an even greater purpose for the chain once autumn rolls around and all of the parties and closing ceremonies are over.

The Whitbread schools, located in Hockley Heath, Manchester and Swindon, will provide cookery courses that take the staff lucky enough to take part through every aspect of putting a meal in fornt of a customer; starting with the way the food is produced, sourced and store in a manner befitting to their industry.

The comprehensive modules will then move onto food preparation and learning the restaurant and kitchen managers to cook the various foods on the menus that are standard fare across the brand’s chain.

The specialist training and development program then completes the lessons in cuisine by teaching the chefs excellence and execution in meal presentation and the levels of service customers from around the globe have come to expect in their homelands. Not to suggest that, as a rule, the level of customer service in the UK is in any way below par compared to somewhere like Australia or America, you understand. But the role of hospitality is somewhat looked down upon here, whereas it is the stepping stone to prominent careers elsewhere in the world.

It is Whitbread’s hope that this perception can change with this complete cookery course, accredited by the British Institute of Innkeeping, and the training facility surrounding it. Rather than hospitality be a job that people turn to when they have exhausted all other options, they want young people to see that it’s a viable career opportunity from the outset. Recent figures suggest that they are well on the way to doing just that, using customer feedback to drive their future plans.

This time last year, in their ranks Whitbread boasted 2,000 trained chefs, kitchen and restaurant managers. By the time we hit 2012, a further 7,500 staff had come through the ranks and been trained to the exacting standards. With the investment in the academies, the effort put into the specialist cookery courses and growth through promotion and intense inhouse training, they have high hopes 2012 will prove even better.

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