- 10/03/11 - Hospitality and Catering Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are a great way into Somerset's multi-million pound tourism and leisure sector. The hospitality and catering industry is one of the largest in the country and employs over 11,000 people in Somerset. It includes restaurants, hotels, cafes, pubs, holiday parks, conference venues and catering companies. Careers in this sector are varied, including kitchen assistant, chef, school cook, waiter, receptionist, house-keeper or hotel supervisor, and there are apprenticeships to support new or existing staff in these careers.
Confident about the future
Mathew White, from Somerton, is 23 and an Apprentice Commis Chef at the Unicorn Hotel in Somerton. He is training at Strode College for an NVQ level 2 in Hospitality.
Most of the time Mathew helps Head Chef Sue Bloxham prepare meals for the hotel guests. But every Wednesday he goes to Strode College where he learns additional skills which help him deliver a professional service at the hotel.
Mathew is confident about his future, but he wasn't always so clear about what to do. "I left school at 16 with some GCSEs, but I didn't have a career plan," he said. "After four years working at a local garage I wanted a change, so I got a bar job at the Unicorn Hotel. It was a great move - enjoyable work, a friendly and sociable environment and a great team.
"Head Chef Sue has taught me so much and she encouraged me to become an apprentice, to train for a qualification whilst I'm working. We looked at the courses available and chose the one that suited my interests and my work at the hotel.
"As an apprentice I've learnt new skills and really built up my knowledge and my confidence in the kitchen. I'm thinking about doing a level 3 qualification next, and in the future I'd like to have my own place - a grill bar perhaps."
A career not 'just a job'
Sue Bloxham, Head Chef at the Unicorn Hotel, is responsible for training kitchen staff. She's been a chef for over 30 years and understands the value of good training at the start of a career and for the success of a business.
She said: "For me, apprenticeships are a great way to get young people to take their work and their future seriously, to think in terms of a career rather than 'just a job'. If a young person like Mathew sees that his employer is committed to providing good training and support, he knows he is valued. This is great for confidence, attitude and motivation, which is also great for business.
"I say this not just as an employer, but also as a parent. My son is also doing a Hospitality Apprenticeship. He's studying at Strode College and working as a chef in Ilchester. I'm delighted he took this route into a career as I know he is getting excellent training which he can build on in the future."