I write in response to your article "Students steer clear of contract catering" (Caterer, 18 May, page 12). Along with four other food service providers in the Kent area, we have been working with Thanet College for the past three years.
In 2003 the college invited us to become their "industry professors". This role has allowed us to enhance understanding among both students and lecturers. It was very clear from the outset that neither knew anything about the contract catering industry.
I now have the opportunity to meet the students in their first week of training and present the opportunities available to them in the sector. The students are frequently given site tours of our contracts and are offered the chance to come on work placements. A number of students are also offered work on a casual basis. We have also had the lecturers from the college come on work placements with us, where they spent a week working alongside our teams.
The good news is that after the students spend some time with us they soon realise that contract catering can be sexy: the controls and procedures in place far exceed what they have seen elsewhere, and the rewards are often greater.
Hopefully, this letter will encourage other colleges and operators in our industry to form a partnership like ours.
Account director, Compass Group