Written by
Esher Williams

Published
09 Sep 2016

Strada steps into apprenticeships

09 Sep 2016 • by Esher Williams

It’s a big deal for the business but also for me. I joined the company just six months ago. Apprenticeships was the one thing I wanted to roll out for the business because I knew the additional training and support would help our team members to thrive, and vice versa the business.

The inspiration

I’m hugely passionate about personal training and development, and not just because it’s a requirement within such a fast paced industry. I owe my own career to hard work, and learning on the job.

Like many people, I actually fell into the industry. I needed a job quickly and took some bar work that was offered to me. Because I was conscientious, had some good ideas, and supported others, I was quickly promoted. It happened so fast that I needed an opportunity to take stock and understand what really makes a business tick. I spent four years studying for a hospitality management degree.I took part in lots of competitions and in fact won the Toque d’Or in 2005 as Front of House staff. This was one of the biggest platforms to build my career on; I was introduced to Alan Murchison who offered my first job after college. He then introduced me to the team at the Fat Duck Group where I was lucky enough to work with Heston Blumenthal as his learning & development manager.

I then ran my own consultancy working with clients such as the Dorchester Hotel, Corinthia Hotel, Fortnum & Mason and SSP. That’s when I transferred across to education. I joined the renowned Westminster Kingsway College as Programme Manager for Hospitality, Food and Beverage Service.

It’s these fantastic opportunities that I’ve been given throughout my career that’s shaped my thinking about learning and development. I’ve always been interested in entry level learning and development and career paths.

After reviewing Strada’s existing learning and development policies and practices, I recognised that additional training and support would further engage the team and give them something to work towards. Equally, Strada is working towards being an employer of choice. It’s a tough market out there, especially the high street, and it’s important to us that we help our team members on their career journey, while delivering for the business. Research shows that millennials, who form a large proportion of our employee base, crave tools, resources and work experience to help them throughout their career. 

If youre planning an apprenticeship programme Id highly recommend working with a training provider, like Lifetime, who takes the time to understand your business and is passionate about getting under the skin of it.

My aim for the programme is to raise our employer brand profile, and to show, through our learners, what a great industry hospitality is to work in. We’re raising the skills of our team while giving something back to the industry. 

Our apprenticeship qualifications have been designed to support all roles at all levels, from front of house and kitchen team members through to senior chefs and general managers. We chose to outsource training and assessment to award-winning private training provider lifetime training. Its team of regional trainers will be delivering a range of qualifications including: food & beverage level 2, food production & cooking level 2, kitchen services level 2, team leading level 2 and hospitality supervision & leadership level 3.

We’ve embedded the apprenticeship programme into our existing Strada diploma, which means all apprentices will complete all our internal training, such as our 7 steps of service, that other team members complete. The expectation is that when they graduate they’ll seamlessly integrate into the business; with the same expectations and ways of working as any other team member. 

It’s early days but so far, so good. We currently have five apprentices on programme and another 12 due to start.