Royal Castle Hotel
The Royal Castle Hotel in South Devon is using apprenticeships to find the next generation of hospitality staff
Located on the quayside in the beautiful estuary town of Dartmouth, the Royal Castle Hotel has trained 12 apprentices since introducing apprenticeships in 2011.
The hotel’s 65-strong workforce currently includes four apprentices. All are working towards intermediate apprenticeships on the Retail and Commercial Enterprise or Catering and Professional Chefs frameworks. As well as learning on the job in the kitchen and front of house, they study at South Devon College and are set to gain vocational qualifications such as Level 2 NVQs in the relevant discipline.
“Apprenticeships are an integral part of our strong focus on training and developing our staff,” says Duty Manager Tony Byrne “They bring fresh drive to our team, which pushes our staff forward and creates a great learning and working environment for everybody.”
Improved training for everyone
As well as injecting youthful energy into the workplace, apprentices have helped draw attention to human resources issues that need addressing. For example, thanks to apprenticeships the hotel has improved its training matrixes for new staff as well as introducing ‘touch up training’ for long term staff.
“Our apprenticeships have also helped us recognise that we need to devote more time to team building,” says Tony. “When we have big functions like comedy evenings or murder mystery dinners that require lots of staff working together from different departments, we need to ensure they can seamlessly join forces.”
Nurturing local talent
The Royal Castle Hotel is well known in Dartmouth and many young people, familiar with its name and reputation, are keen to get on board.
“By offering apprenticeships, we’re able to give employment to local young people and nurture our own home-grown talent,” says Tony. “They bring with them valuable local knowledge about produce and seasonal events. All apprentices are paired up with a mentor – a senior staff member who can share the knowledge the apprentices need to succeed.”
The hotel offers full-time employment to successful graduates of its apprenticeships. The converse is true too: receptionist Laura Taylor was already a full time staff member when she decided to become an apprentice so that she could gain extra skills and qualifications. Her apprenticeship has enabled her to take on responsibilities in accounts management and managing important events such as weddings.
The hotel is actively involved in promoting apprenticeships, regularly attending open days and careers events at South Devon College. In recognition of its commitment to apprenticeships, the hotel has been named Medium-sized Employer of the Year in the South West region at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2014, and also features on the list of the Top 100 employers of apprentices.
Apprenticeships have been proving so beneficial to the Royal Castle Hotel that it now has plans to grow them. “We want to expand our apprenticeships and our most exciting new prospect is management and supervisory positions for apprentices,” says Tony. “Our hope is to develop the senior chefs and hotel managers of the future.”
To find out more about the business benefits of apprenticeships, please contact the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.
For employment opportunities at the Royal Castle Hotel, including apprenticeship vacancies, visit their website.