UK: The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group is introducing a professional training academy to support new employees of all ages in the development of their hospitality careers.
The Devonshire Hospitality Academy is an 18-month, in-house training programme which will lead to an industry qualification at Level 2 Apprenticeship. It is in direct response to the resistance of entering the hospitality industry which has been heightened by the pandemic.
Upon successful completion of the course, the Academy offers the guarantee of a promotion to a permanent, full-time role within the business. Places will be awarded to staff at all properties within the Devonshire portfolio, across both the Chatsworth and Bolton Abbey Estates.
Content will be delivered via monthly schedules of workshops covering topics such as customer dining experience, foraging on the estate, a day with a supplier, and knife skills. The programme also offers social media workshops, commercial awareness training, and mental health awareness training.
Launching the Academy follows wider reviews of the business, such as working patterns, unsocial hours, work pressures and rates of pay. For example, salaries now reflect an individual’s contribution to the business rather than statutory pay levels.
In recent years, The Devonshire Group has introduced four-day weeks with no split-shifts for chef roles.
Richard Palmer, managing director of The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group, said: “This is a particularly exciting project for me, and the hospitality industry and the opportunities it presents is an area for which I have such passion. The key message from me is that this is an invitation to gain invaluable life skills, which are transferable to many aspects of the hospitality industry, and beyond. For example, I know ex-chefs who are now hotel managers, working as head of innovation and MDs of foodservice companies. This grassroots approach is a viable and dynamic alternative to the traditional college route.
“I relate to this with personal experience, having started out my own career as a bar attendant at The Devonshire Brasserie,” he continued. “By age 21, I was managing a £1m turnover business and 25 staff, and by my mid-30’s I became the group’s MD. There is now a wealth of opportunities for people from all walks of life, who are ready to apply themselves and are eager to learn and develop. For those wanting to go to the top, we offer training right through to MBA level. The world is your oyster, to coin a phrase!
“The challenges of recent times have presented us all with a chance to look at things afresh, and seek more fulfilment from our working lives, and appreciate that there has never been a better time to learn new skills and join this dynamic industry. For those of us already established in our careers, now is the time to give others the benefit of our experience and share our passion.”
Another initiative taken by The Devonshire Group is the creation of 33 six-month placements under the government’s Kickstart scheme, which provides funding for the creation of jobs for those aged 16-24 on Universal Credit. The placements run on both estates and include gardeners, farmyard and adventure playground assistants, a dry stone waller and commis chef.
The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The portfolio includes a variety of luxury hotel and restaurant properties across the Bolton Abbey Estate in the Yorkshire Dales and the Chatsworth Estate in Derbyshire.