Brend Hotel apprentices with Peter Brend Junior, Peter Brend Senior, Matthew Brend and Andrew Mosedale in the foreground

The Brend Hotel Group has become the first hotel company in the South West to launch its own Apprenticeship Academy.

The group, which has eleven luxury hotels throughout Devon and Cornwall, has been offering vocational training to staff since 2004. Formal apprenticeships followed but now, instead of apprentices attending local colleges, all training will initially take place at the Brend’s flagship Saunton Sands Hotel.

There are currently sixty apprentices on the scheme learning a variety of skills connected with work across the hotel industry including front of house, bar, waiting, kitchen, administration, housekeeping, concierge and portering.

“This is a very positive development for the company,” said Andrew Mosedale, Brend’s Group HR Manager and the new Academy Principal. “We have spent the last ten years building up expertise and are delighted to be taking this next step forward and introducing our own academy.”

Director Peter Brend Senior said apprenticeships had proved a very important way of ‘growing your own’ staff.

“We are a family company that values its employees and encourages them to stay long-term,” he said. “Apprenticeships are an excellent way of developing and enhancing skill levels and establishing our own academy means we can offer the very best Level 2 and 3 training available in situ. Our aim is to become a beacon of industry excellence in all senses of the term.”

HIT Training, a leading specialist training and apprenticeship provider for the UK’s hospitality, hotel and catering industry, will be responsible for providing expert training-assessors and sourcing funding for eligible learners.

“The Brend Hotel Group initiative is blazing a trail in the South West and we’re very pleased to be working with them,” said HIT’s Managing Director Jill Whittaker. “Well trained, competent staff are a valuable asset and can help a business perform well by delivering improved efficiency, better customer service and reduced staff turnover.”

There were about 70 guests at the launch including Councillor Brian Greenslade, Leader of North Devon Council, award-winning journalist and TV presenter Alexis Bowater who performed the official opening, HIT Training Chief Executive Officer Jill Whittaker and Mary Graves, Employment Services Manager at The National Apprenticeship Service.

Mary Graves said: “This is a great example of increasing the scope and impact of apprenticeships in the Group. Apprenticeships are helping future proof the skills and proficiencies needed by the business both for new recruits and existing staff. It has been a pleasure to support The Brend Hotel Group in the evolution of its apprenticeship programme and in establishing the Academy.”

After cutting a special cake in honour of the occasion, Alexis Bowater presented certificates to a number of apprentices who have just completed their training.

The Brend Hotel Group is currently recruiting new apprentices. For more information, call Andrew Mosedale on 01271 372166 or email him at am@brendhotels.com <am@brendhotels.com> <http://am@brendhotels.com <http://am@brendhotels.com> >

Ends 26 January 2015

Photos: As captioned

Media enquiries: Sue Bradbury PR Tel: 01872 863863 E: sue@suebradburypr.com

Case studies

Chantelle Gerken. Barnstaple Hotel, Barnstaple, Devon. NVQ2 Kitchen Services.

Chantelle started work at the Barnstaple Hotel straight from school. She loves cooking – learning her basic skills by watching her mum from a very early age.

Chantelle explained: “There were several reasons I chose an apprenticeship as my way to extend my skills and get a recognised qualification. The most important was that you earn whilst you learn. Another really important part was that you learn by doing the job not just being told about it.

“I was attracted to the Barnstaple Hotel because it’s part of Brend Hotels, which has 11 luxury hotels in Devon and Cornwall and I thought by being able to work in different hotels I’d get a more varied experience and that would improve my skills even more.”

The hardest part of the experience for Chantelle has been socialising – she was extremely shy. During the apprenticeship training she has overcome those feelings and grown in confidence personally as well as professionally.

Chantelle has recently completed the first part of her two year apprenticeship and is now a valued member of the hotel’s kitchen team, contributing by creating her own recipes. Her aim is to become a professional chef.

James Eason. Imperial Hotel, Barnstaple, Devon. NVQ2 Food and Beverage.

After a year at college studying catering James Eason, 18, did some work experience at the Imperial Hotel, Barnstaple. He loved it, completed all his tasks to a good standard and was offered a permanent job as a waiter at the end of it. James decided it was an opportunity not to miss, left college, moved into the hotel and began his career. Within a year, still making progress, James was offered an apprenticeship.

He said: “When I left school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do so picked a college course that appealed to me. It turned out to be mostly about catering and that didn’t interest me, but it has led on to all of this so it was the right choice in a way because it brought me here!

“The apprenticeship is 100% restaurant-based all monitored on the job – there’s no comparison with the college course. I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to other young people.”

It’s taken James a year to complete his NVQ2 and he’s now keen to begin extending that learning to NVQ3 with the aim of improving and perfecting his waiting skills.

Bea Shepherd, Imperial Hotel, Barnstaple, Devon. NVQ2 Team Leading

Bea, 25, has worked at the Imperial Hotel, for seven years. She began as a room attendant, worked hard and was promoted first to trainer and then to supervisor. Recognising her work ethic and ability, managers at the hotel chose to offer Bea an apprenticeship to extend her training and make the most of her potential. It has taken her a year to complete an NVQ2 in Team Leading and Bea is now Deputy Housekeeper.

Bea said: “The course has given me so much more confidence. Before you start you’re not sure if you can do it or if you want to, but it is definitely worth it. Because it’s all based at work it’s easier than you’d imagine because you’re doing the job, not just learning about it, and you improve.

“I’ve surprised myself, I never imagined I’d get as far as I have and the apprenticeship has helped me develop as a person, as well as developing my work skills.”

Ross Southworth, Royal Duchy Hotel, Falmouth. NVQ2 Kitchen Services

Ross is 26. It’s taken a few years and a variety of jobs for him to find his niche. He describes himself as a bit of a workaholic, at one time working seven days as week at two jobs as a barman and at a meat factory.

It wasn’t until Ross took the position of kitchen porter at the Royal Duchy Hotel in Falmouth six years ago that he discovered a job and workplace he enjoyed and found interesting. From kitchen porter he was moved into the kitchen to extend his skill set and began to work as a chef. A few months ago, he was offered an apprenticeship and is now at the start of his NVQ studies. He says he’s really enjoying them and is delighted that, once completed, he will have a recognised, transferrable qualification.

He said: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school and tried lots of different things. This job is the first one that has engaged and tested me. It’s full-time, pushes my limits and I can see a real future for myself in it. Being paid whilst I’m learning is a real bonus and I’d recommend a Brend Hotel apprenticeship to anyone.”

Courteney Stevens, The Devon Hotel, Exeter

Courteney Stevens, 16, is just about to start his Level 1 apprenticeship at The Devon Hotel in Exeter and is looking forward to it.

“I’m going to be getting work experience in lots of different areas so I can think about what I like doing best,” he said. “My parents are really pleased I’m doing this. It’s a great opportunity and one day I hope to become a manager.”