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Cateys 2019: Education and Training Award – Andrew Boer, Edge Hotel School

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Cateys 2019: Education and Training Award – Andrew Boer, Edge Hotel School

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After having been shortlisted for this award in 2017, Andrew Boer has been recognised this year for his consistent commitment to hospitality education with the 2019 Education and Training Award. Overseeing the Edge Hotel School (EHS) in Colchester, Essex, as principal, he has consistently raised the profile of the hospitality industry among young people, and his philosophy of ‘industry-engaged education’ has become a foundation stone of his students’ experience.

For example, the school has sent teams of student volunteers to support events such as Master Innholders’ general managers conference, the HOSPA conference, the Independent Hotel Show and the Brit awards, and Boer encourages his students to support charities such as Hospitality Action and events such as Back to the Floor and the Master Innholders’ charity cycle challenge. Regular networking events at the school allow current students and alumni to develop their professional networks.

His approach has helped boost the school’s graduate employment rates – up to 85% last year – and more than 80% of EHS graduates remain within the hospitality industry.

Since he took on the post four years ago, the school has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative category of The Times’ Higher Education Teaching and Management Awards 2017, and positively acknowledged in the House of Commons Education Committee’s Value for Money in Higher Education report in November 2018.

While the industry has always experienced difficulties in recruiting and retaining talent, Boer recognised that the additional pressures of Brexit would have a significant impact at all levels, and has used his position to tackle this sector-wide issue.

He oversaw the launch of the Inspiring Hospitality Careers project in 2017, which is dedicated to raising the profile of the hospitality industry as a career of choice among schoolchildren aged between 14 and 18. Using specially developed educational materials, the project places EHS staff in schools and colleges to promote the opportunities and career prospects that are available in the sector.

In 2018 alone, close to 10,000 young people engaged with the project across nearly 100 schools, colleges, special needs academies and prisons in the UK. In addition, it is estimated that the project has been seen by more than 20,000 students. Even more impressively, after just one interaction with the project, the proportion of students indicating an interest in hospitality careers soared from 13% to 88%.

Boer is taking the project to the next level this year to continue the school and college visits (with a target of more than 8,500 student engagements) and provide bespoke training and learning materials for school and college careers advisers.

What the judges said

“Andrew should be celebrated for promoting hospitality as a world-leading career choice.”
Tim Foster

“Andrew has taken the Edge from a medium-level establishment to a high-class hotel school.”
Kulsum Hussin

“An outstanding example of collaboration to promote careers in our industry.”
David McKown


The shortlist

Andrew Boer Edge Hotel School, Colchester, Essex

Gary Hunter Westminster Kingsway College, London

Gordon McIntyre City of Glasgow College

Molook Shaher Middlesbrough College

The judges

Beth Aarons Global director, Dorchester Collection

David Cochrane Chief executive, HIT Scotland

John Cousins Director, the Food and Beverage Training Company

Peter Ducker Chief executive,  Institute of Hospitality

Tim Foster Founder, Yummy Pub Co

Kulsum Hussin Chief executive, Welcome Skills

Willie McCurrach Head of school for food, hospitality and tourism, City of Glasgow College

David McKown Head of training and quality, accommodation and commercial services, University of Sheffield

Sara Jayne Stanes Chief executive, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts

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