Conference Aston takes on its first apprentices

Conference Aston in Birmingham has signalled its commitment to staff training and development by launching a new apprenticeship scheme.

Two members of staff have begun their apprenticeships with city-based college University College Birmingham (UCB), which is the training and support provider for the leading conference and events venue, with the aim of attaining nationally recognised qualifications that will help them to progress in their chosen careers.

41-year-old Rafael Soldardo, from Cordoba, Spain, has begun an 18-month catering apprenticeship after joining the venue 18 months ago as a kitchen porter.

After demonstrating a passion for cooking and demonstrating his basic chef skills in the kitchen, he was promoted to commis chef in July 2017 and is being supported by the venue’s talented chefs as he completes his course. UCB is also supporting Rafael to improve his English language skills.

“I was very excited to be offered the chance to become a chef at Conference Aston and am very grateful to have the opportunity to learn the theory as well as put it into practice in the kitchens where I am learning from my experienced colleagues,” he said.

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Tim Florea has begun a hospitality apprenticeship through UCB after joining the venue two years ago in April 2016 as a front-of-house member of the restaurant team. After changing to an operational role, Conference Aston has offered Tim an opportunity to gain qualifications whilst working in the business. He will complete a two-year Level 3 apprenticeship in hospitality, undertaking modules in finance, sales, marketing and hospitality.

He said:

“Since starting at Conference Aston I’ve had so much support from everyone here, so to be given the chance to progress within the hospitality industry and gain qualifications is brilliant. Learning on the job is perfect for me.”

 Samantha Brown, Head of Conference Aston, said the business recognises the benefits for both staff and the venue of offering apprenticeships, having previously offered placements to people starting on the career ladder. 

“We are keen to invest in our staff and help them to develop the skills they need to go on to have a successful career,” she said. “Supporting them day to day is one thing but offering them the chance to learn and gain nationally recognised qualifications at UCB, which is a well-respected college within the catering and hospitality sector, is a step up in our commitment to ensuring we have the right talent in the right job.

“We’ve equally been pleasantly surprised at the opportunities available within the apprenticeship scheme. Initially, we were uncertain of how to progress the process, due to its immediate complexities, but having taken the time and resource to fully explore the apprenticeship service, the resulting opportunities have been better than expected.

“We would encourage other venues in our sector, if they haven’t already, to explore this excellent route for bringing young people into the the industry.”

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