Could anyone out there use our expertise?

17 May 2007
Could anyone out there use our expertise?

Andy Townsend, chief executive of Legacy Hotels & Resorts, has a generous offer for colleges

Reading the fascinating interview with Marco Pierre White (Caterer, 26 April, page 26]( I was both heartened and saddened by his views on catering colleges and their role in today's industry.

I also have strong views on the roles of catering courses and how they have become disconnected from hands-on hotel operations.

There is undoubtedly a place for formal catering qualifications but I have the distinct impression that colleges have - largely through their own choice - become disconnected from the industry.

Many of those running courses are far happier in their own bubble within the classroom - take them outside and they're not so sure of themselves.

The result is that colleges are failing in their responsibilities and are turning out youngsters who have precious little experience at the coalface and are unprepared for the real world.

It's a problem we need to address, and in a bid to improve the situation, I contacted my old catering college in North Wales and tried to set up a mutually beneficial scheme.

My senior managers and I offered to make unlimited visits to the college and participate in courses wherever we could be useful by imparting practical aspects of the industry.

We also offered work experience placements for students, access to our operations for tutors and finally - draw a deep breath - the opportunity for students and tutors to run one of our hotels for a weekend at the end of their course.

The wariness with which our offer was greeted was tangible. Originally the college said it was interested but that later turned into "we're too busy but will come back to you". That was a year ago.

I'm prepared to make the same offer to another college - is any college out there prepared to embrace this challenge and work with us to make a difference?

I would urge other operators to do the same, then, if we're all met with a similar stonewall response, we should shout from the rooftops about it. Interested? Drop me a line at

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