Behind the scenes at Whitbread’s Food & Beverage Skills Academy

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Whitbread

In an industry where staff training is paramount, the UK’s largest hotel and restaurant operator Whitbread is leading the pack, having set up a number of Food and Beverage Skills Academies across the UK in a bid to improve the abilities and brand awareness of its restaurant and kitchen managers.

In this BigHospitality video, our reporter Luke Nicholls took a tour of the Skills Academy in Swindon; gaining a hands-on insight into Whitbread’s refreshed approach to staff training and speaking with employees who have gone through the program to find out just how impactful these development centres can be.

The Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Costa Coffee operator has already invested more than £1m in three academies​in Hockley Heath, Manchester and Swindon. Over 5,000 members of staff have gone through the specialised training, with an overall aim to put all 15,000 Whitbread team members through these and potentially more academies across the UK.

Courses range from food product information and cooking through to presentation and customer service, with computer pool rooms and interactive classes teaching the staff about key brand activity and menu information. 

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But what advantages do these Food & Beverage Skills Adademies bring for Whitbreads’ individual outlets, and for the hospitality industry as a whole? And could more hospitality training centres like this perhaps be the answer to nurturing future talent, raising standards across the industry and making the young unemployed more aware of hospitality as a potential career?

Interviewed in the video are two Whitbread skills coaches, Paul Higginson and Trevor Whithall, who explain the type of training that kitchen staff are put through at the Academy in Swindon. Meanwhile, the managing director of Whitbread Restaurants, Paul Flaum, comments on what he hopes will come from opening more Skills Academies like this.

Also in the video are Adam Kearney and Jade Mitchell – two current Whitbread employees who recently went through the Food and Beverage Skills Academy. The pair agreed that it was the training they received in Swindon that gave them a solid foundation on which to progress up the hospitality ladder.

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