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Pouring effort into training

06 April 2006

Your article on bartender training (Caterer, 16 March, page 34) made depressing reading, particularly to those of us who have spent many years trying to convince employers and the Government that funding training was money well spent.

We have obviously been hiding our light under a bushel at the UK Bartenders Guild (UKBG), because we were not mentioned in your piece.

The UKBG was founded in 1933, and for the past 73 years we have striven to comply with one of the original aims of the guild - which was, and remains, "to assist in the training of new members".

In 1954, under the direction of Mr John Whyte, ours became the first training scheme for bartenders to receive certification from any educational institution, when it took place at Blackpool College, and subsequently at Ayr College and Guildford College. It is currently receiving the imprimatur of Westminster Kingsway College in London.

At present, there are two courses available. Level 1 is for new entrants to the fascinating world of bartending, and level 2 is for bartenders with more experience. Both courses receive the full attention of some of the world's top bartenders.

So successful were these courses that, in 1974, when the International Bartenders Association (IBA) decided to set up training schemes for countries where none previously existed, it was the UKBG scheme which was used as a template.

In addition to these national schemes, there are international courses being run in Singapore, Prague and São Paolo, which students from any one of the 51 member countries of the IBA may attend. Unfortunately, the high cost of hotel accommodation in the UK precludes our association continuing the work started by John Whyte.

The UKBG is happy to continue the work of training young - and not-so-young - bartenders, and any individual or company wanting further information should see our website at ukbg.co.uk or contact me at ukbgjim@aol.com.

Jim Slavin
National administrator and past president, UKBG

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