A new hotel and restaurant school at Bath College will give industry leaders the chance to address a skills shortage in the city by developing home-grown talent.
Tourism is big business in Bath, but top hotels in the city need highly skilled staff and a shallow labour pool is making it hard for managers to find the right employees.
The Bath Hotel and Restaurant School will help employers to discover future talent and will make sure students are getting the right training early on in their careers.
Sixteen businesses have signed up to be part of the new partnership and will meet students for the first time at a launch event on November 10.
The launch takes place at the multi-million pound Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel, part of the Malaysian-based company YTL.
Over 200 high-profile guests were invited to the hotel’s official opening in October and students from Bath College were there serving guests on the night.
Now the Gainsborough has committed to offer regular work placements and masterclasses through the new hotel and restaurant school.
Food and beverage manager Paul Mason will be offering students cocktail masterclasses and is looking forward to passing on his knowledge.
He said: “YTL have their own catering school in Malaysia so the Gainsborough Bath Spa understands the benefits of working locally with the Bath Hotel and Restaurant School.
“For YTL it’s all about the next generation. Many of the current staff have been working for YTL for the last 15 years and started at the bottom to work their way up to become head chefs and managers.
“In Bath especially, there are so many restaurants. Every restaurant is looking for chefs and front of house staff. It’s a good market for staff, but for us as employers it’s hard to find people with the right skill sets.
“Tourism is one of the key industries in Bath, the industry employs 9,000 people locally. But Bath is not London – it’s not a big city – and we have to work harder to attract people to come to work here.
“By working together, it means that the students emerge better trained for real life in a busy restaurant or hotel, which will definitely benefit both the industry and the young people themselves.
“It benefits us if we can train them from the start, rather than people coming in with bad habits which we have to train out of them, and it’s always nice to pass your knowledge on – it gives you a sense of fulfilment.
“Getting work experience here will add to their qualifications. As well as jobs in Bath, it will open up scope for them throughout the world.”
A string of top employers have signed up to support the Bath Hotel and Restaurant School and offer students a variety of work placements. These include Demuth’s Cookery School, Homewood Park, The Pump Room Restaurant and the Royal Crescent Hotel.
Level 3 students will also work at The Priory, the MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel, the Bath Pub Company, Abbey Hotel and the Hilton Hotel. They will be offered experience at Woods Restaurant, Apex Hotels, The Pig near Bath, Lucknam Park, the Manor House Hotel at Castle Combe and the Methuen Arms, in Corsham.
Bridget Halford, head of hospitality, hair, beauty and spa industries at Bath College, is looking forward to the growth of the new school.
She said: “We’re building partnerships to give them the best opportunities and access to the best employers across the city and beyond. Businesses have been really supportive. They think it’s a fantastic idea and it’s something that’s needed.”
Sarah Holden, hotel director at The Pig near Bath, said: “We’re excited about the launch of the hotel and restaurant school- it’s a real opportunity for us to showcase the hotel and demonstrate the huge opportunities there are within the group.
“It’s a privilege to be involved and what makes this different is that all the businesses have had a voice in how this has been set up. I am sure it will help with recruitment- it’s no secret that industry wide this is a huge challenge, especially in the kitchen.
“The dream is that the hotel and restaurant school will enable us to recruit the next generation and home-grow our own talent.”