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HIT Training was described by the judges as "bang on what the market needs right now" and an "effective organisation fulfilling an important gap".
Its chef academy team runs innovative training workshops across the country for the culinary stars of the future. The academy, which launched in 2015, aims to meet the demand for highly skilled chefs in the foodservice industry and supplements the professional chef apprenticeship programme.
There are now 16 centres across the country, designed to attract and retain chefs and help plug the national skills shortage, and the team has trained nearly 300 apprentices to date with a further 685 currently in training. HIT Training also creates bespoke schemes for employers. The team understands that a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't work in the foodservice sector and it tailors its training for the needs of individual employers accordingly. For example, by incorporating specific dishes or recipes featured on a menu or mirroring an establishment's style of cooking.
To keep up to date with the fast-moving nature of the foodservice industry, the academy team also constantly evolves the content and curriculum of the workshops, influenced by market movement and emerging trends. To reflect the increased popularity of vegetable and plant-based eating, a workshop has been developed that focuses on this style of cooking and how to cater for customers with those dietary requirements.
The team also regularly attends networking meetings with chefs and providers in the industry to discover new opportunities and partnerships. To ensure the trainers are continually developing their own skills, they work in the industry at HIT Training's customers' sites and are each required to spend at least five days in the field each year to ensure their experience stays relevant.
The past year has been one of the most significant in the academy's history: it has tripled the number of bespoke academies run for national customers and, in turn, tripled the total number of apprentices on them. In 2017, the HIT Training chef academy ran 110 commis chef academies; in the first six months of 2018 alone, it has already run 115, and satisfaction rates remain impressively high, with 98% of learners and employers stating that they would recommend HIT Training.
Staff turnover among key accounts has been reduced to less than half of the sector's average, demonstrating the positive impact had on individual careers and the wider hospitality community (which is facing a shortfall of around one million workers).
Overall, the HIT Training chef academy team has driven forward the apprenticeship agenda, helped to reduce the skills gap and broaden opportunities within the catering sector by raising the quality and relevance of training, and is much deserving of this year's inaugural Supplier Excellence Award.
What the judges said
"Bang on what the market needs right now and sufficiently dynamic to modify their approach to meet their clients' needs."
Chris Stern, managing director, Stern Consultancy
"An effective organisation fulfilling an important gap of training and developing members of our hospitality industry"
Diana Spellman, managing director, Partners in Purchasing
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