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Training grants benefit NZ hospitality industry

Training grants used to benefit New Zealand’s hospitality industry


News article issued on behalf of the
Hospitality Standards Institute

New training facilities, new training courses and an international perspective on quantity catering operations are just some of the exciting initiatives created through the allocation of the inaugural Hospitality Standards Institute Industry Training Grants.

The HSI Training Grants programme was launched last year – with funds allocated at the beginning of 2006. Grant applications were open to all workplace sectors of the hospitality industry – including culinary, front of house, and accommodation establishments. Grant amounts varied, and were assessed on how the funding was to be utilised within the workplace and how many personnel would benefit from the successful application.

The grants were applicable to hospitality employers seeking to introduce workplace training initiatives, and for companies which required additional funding to implement new programmes to train a greater number of staff.

Multi-faceted food production and catering company Nexus Foods has spent its Industry Training Grant developing dedicated training facilities and resources within its Christchurch plant. With a staff of 20, Nexus Foods manufactures bulk foods for a range of high-volume clients – including most of New Zealand’s biggest ski-field operators – while the business also runs a catering division, a retail outlet, and a café in central Christchurch.

Nexus Foods director Angus Winstone said staff in the company were actively encouraged to take up training options, and the new training and resource room with its burgeoning reference library would allow a greater uptake of this. Fellow Nexus director and recipe development chef Jack Jansen has a long association with the Hospitality Standards Institute, and is a registered workplace assessor.

“Nexus Foods is a company constantly looking at where the next food trend is coming from – so we need our staff to be at the leading edge of foodservice as well. By training our employees, we’re not only giving them the personal tools to develop their own skill sets, but also the ability to increase their value to the company,” Mr Winstone said.

“The HSI Training Grant has added an important aspect to our business sustainability – that is the ability to attract and retain staff as we move into a projected growth phase.”

Meanwhile further south, Dunedin catering manager Katherine White has allocated her Industry Training Grant to fund attendance at the National Association of College and University Food Services Conference in Toronto, Canada. Katherine White is catering manager at Selwyn College in Dunedin which serves 176 meals three times a day.

The National Association of College and University Food Services is an American-based organisation whose membership includes catering and foodservice managers at high schools, colleges and universities around the world.

Among the seminars Katherine White attended during the conference in July were presentations on: * The development of nutritional menus in dining halls. * Staff training and motivation. * Utilising organic produce cost-effectively. * Marketing menus to pupil customers. * Benchmarking operations costs. * Short-order catering at sporting events. * Interior décor for school dining halls.

“The breadth and depth of information contained in the seminars far exceeds anything available in New Zealand – simply because the USA has such a vast number of educational establishments involved in this very niche sector of the foodservice market,” Katherine White said. “You’re talking about some educational sites which serve thousands of meals daily.

“I would never have been able to attend this incredibly valuable conference if it wasn’t for the HSI Training Grants and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. I’m coming back to Dunedin with a whole new perspective on our catering operations, and can certainly see how some of the initiatives I was exposed to at the conference can successfully be adapted to the Selwyn College environment.”

In the tourist heartland of New Zealand, Destination Rotorua Economic Development utilised its grant to establish a hospitality-focussed supervisory skills course in conjunction with the Wairakei Institute of Technology.

Destination Rotorua Economic Development employment skills coordinator Joanna Gargiulo said the supervisory course had been developed in response to a shortage of middle-management personnel among the city’s cafés, restaurants and bars.

“This course shows attendees there is a clear career path within the hospitality industry while at the same time empowering them with the skills needed to progress along that path. Of course, along the way the students pick up valuable tools enabling them to become much more professional in their jobs.”

The first course began in May, with week-long modules running every two months. There are six modules in the course, with the 16 students on the course ranging in age from 18-years-old through to their 40s. Most of those on the supervisory course are from small owner/operated businesses.

Course qualifications lead to a national certificate in food and beverage (level three) and a national certificate in hospitality operations (level four).

“This is a pilot course for Destination Rotorua Economic Development and Wairakei Institute of Technology which was only made possible through the fantastic support of the HSI Industry Training Grants. We will look at rolling out this course on an ongoing basis in the future,” Ms Gargiulo said.

Hospitality Standards Institute chief executive Steve Hanrahan was highly encouraged that the Training Grants had been so actively used to immediately benefit their recipients.

"Since distributing the grants to successful applicants at the beginning of the year, the Hospitality Standards Institute has been closely watching how the funds have been invested. Many of the recipients quickly set about utilising the grants for their intended purposes – reflecting that they truly had needs and goals which could be achieved through the grant-funding process," Mr Hanrahan said.

“The Hospitality Standards Institute sees the investment in grant recipients as an investment in the future of the greater hospitality industry – by selecting those people and businesses with passion, talent and ambitions which can be grown through furthering their skills sets.”


ENDS

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