In 2014 four of Scotland’s leading hotels came together to create a viable and lifelong career opportunity for young people in the hospitality sector. Apprenticeship in Hospitality Scotland (AHS) was established to encourage people to join and progress in this rewarding sector rather than using it as a stepping-stone to something else.
There are now 14 hotels involved in the Apprenticeship along with a training partner and a number of industry supporters. Sixty young people are currently on or have graduated from the programme and seven of these have completed a third year supervisory or management qualification.
Programme to rival a university education
The idea to create AHS came from Gleneagles, one of the four founding member hotels. There had always been discussions in the sector about how to inspire and nurture talent in the hospitality sector. Gleneagles approached three other Scottish hotels – Cameron House, Blythswood Square and Apex Hotels – and the four realised that by working together they, along with Training Matters – a Scottish training provider with a wealth of experience in the sector – could create a robust and effective programme good enough to rival a university education. As AHS Coordinator Katie Kyrousis explains, “As everyone in the industry knows, hospitality can be a very competitive market for recruitment but the hotels were able to put this to one side in order to create something really special and work together towards a bigger goal.”
The programme follows the Modern Apprenticeship framework which allows apprentices to spend six months in four key departments: housekeeping, food and beverage, kitchen and reception over two years. This provides young people with a better all round experience. “You are more likely to success and gain promotion if you have experience and knowledge of all the elements of hospitality,” says Katie. “It also provides a better guest experience as the apprentices know how different teams and areas of the hotel work and where pressure points are.”
Whilst each apprentice is employed by the hotel partner, AHS establishes certain requirements, such as the apprentice receives the national minimum wage. Apprentices are coached both remotely and through face-to-face support and come together to undertake a variety of Masterclasses delivered at the different hotels. These have been as varied as going to a live working laundry and visiting top London hotels to see how kitchens worked. One group even got to go to Buckingham Palace!
Innovation in industry
One apprentice, Rosie Wilkins, decided to undertake an optional third year management qualification as part of her Apprenticeship and has since been promoted to Trainee Duty Manager. She was named Skills Development Scotland Apprentice of the Year in 2017. Lewis Hunter, one of the first apprentices to go through the programme now works as an ambassador supporting new apprentices undertaking the training and was awarded young waiter of the year 2017 by The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and AHS Apprentice of the Year 2017.
The Apprenticeship has been seen as innovative in the sector and has been endorsed by both Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland. It received significant funding from Diageo Learning for Life and there is now a waiting list for hotels wanting to get involved.
Whilst AHS still has funding in place it is looking at additional revenue streams to guarantee the longevity of the programme. Partner hotels have agreed to pay £300 per apprentice for future cohorts and AHS is planning a fundraising dinner in 2018. Chair of the Board and owner of the Torridon Hotel, Rohaise Rose-Bristow, states that she is prouder of being involved in AHS than anything else in her 30-year career in hospitality. She adds: “What it offers is unique. Unique in terms of a professional, exciting and challenging training programme that can be delivered across Scotland to young people. It’s offering a learning journey that is a viable alternative to university and providing our young team with skills for life motivating them to stay in the industry.”
H&C News Comment:
We would like to congratulate Apprenticeship in Hospitality Scotland and all of the hotels that are now part of this initiative, a lead for others to follow.