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The criteria for this category are that the winning individual, team or group has demonstrated an innovative approach to continuous learning within any sector of contract or local authority catering.
This year's winner, the learning and development team at CH&Co, demonstrated tangible evidence of innovation and vast numbers of staff being trained throughout the business.
The learning and development programmes driven by the team and regional trainers are open to everyone in CH&Co. From entry-level roles and apprenticeships to senior management, back and front of house, and head office support roles, the whole hospitality gamut is covered.
CH&Co's Chef Academy, set up just over a year ago, has more than 70 young chefs on level two (commis chef) and level three (chef de partie) courses. Steve Oram, who heads up the academy, is a great teacher and mentor, and takes the time to get to know every individual personally and understand their strengths, aspirations and insecurities.
The new vocationally recognised qualifications (VRQs) are available to all staff in the organisation. Those on offer at CH&Co include a bespoke hospitality excellence VRQ created in partnership with training provider Learning Curve, to give everyone access to topics including equality and diversity, nutrition and health, business administration, team leading, dignity and safeguarding, and awareness of mental health.
Launched in 2018, a customer service programme has been created to give everyone in the CH&Co family the skills and knowledge to deliver excellence every day. The one-hour modules are broken up into 10-minute daily sessions to maximise the effectiveness of learning and so that they can be delivered as part of the daily routine. More than 200 sessions have already been written, including "first impressions", "great hellos" and "the perfect goodbye".
There are currently 467 trained customer service champions in the business, and an additional 75 apprentices will graduate from the new Chef Academy.
Beyond the day-to-day training, CH&Co has implemented a Get Into Work programme which gives young people under the age of 30 from disadvantaged backgrounds the experience and skills to develop a career in hospitality. To date, eight young people have completed the three-week training course and subsequently joined the business.
CH&Co also works closely with hospitality charity Springboard and Foxes Academy (a specialist catering college and training hotel for young adults with learning disabilities).
What the judges said
"This was a good submission, showing strong team building with start-up, and which is quick and efficient in delivery."
David Bridge, development chef, ISS Food and Hospitality
"The volume of training carried out is truly amazing. Four courses per employee is a massive achievement."
Matt Symonds, regional managing director, CH&Co
Vic Laws, director, AVL Consultancy
"Bringing new blood into the industry is key and CH&Co drives this from the core."
Christopher Dean, director of procurement, Gracewell Healthcare
Learning and development team CH&Co
Lorna Hendey Amadeus
2017 Rik Razza, BaxterStorey
2016 Tim Sturk, BaxterStorey
2015 David Bridge and the food development team, ISS Food & Hospitality
2014 Graham Eveleigh, BaxterStorey
2013 Yen Chong, Harbour & Jones
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