Through in-house training programmes, hotels are able to offer practical, hands-on training which are not only tailored to the hotel’s needs, but the needs of those who are being upskilled. We look at three unique programmes where hotels are addressing skills shortages.

De Hoek Country Hotel’s Chef Internship Programme

The five star hotel in Magaliesberg offers a three-year chef apprenticeship for three school leavers. Trainees work in the De Hoek kitchens under the personal guidance of the head chef and his team, each acting as mentors.  This apprenticeship has run successfully for a number of years, and is endorsed and supported by HTA School of Culinary Art. HTA sees to the theoretical aspect of the qualification and the apprentice attends an annual 6 week block release at HTA for which they will be financially responsible. While its advantageous for applicants to have had some experience in the kitchen before, it’s not necessary.

De Hoek co-owner Johann Redelinghuys comments: “It is imperative that we upskill our youth and this ongoing commitment from De Hoek is a perfect opportunity for several eager school leavers to join a well renowned Culinary team here and get a very solid start into working life. Once the apprentices complete the course successfully, they will be given the opportunity to write the City & Guilds Exams and obtain their diploma which is recognized internationally.”

Protea Hotels’ Accelerate Programme

Protea Hotels by Marriott realised that while it didn’t have any issues filling entry-level jobs, it was proving challenging to find people to fill management roles. “We developed an in-service management training programme over 20 years ago,” Benjamin Memani, Group Human Resources Director explains.  “It was geared to produce the skilled personnel our organisation needs, and today about 60% of our senior manager and executive appointments are people who went through the programme.”

The programme, known as Accelerate, focusses on providing both practical and academic training to candidates who do not have an academic background other than a matric.  Trainees spend five years within the full programme, during which time they participate in classes towards an externally recognised qualification in hospitality management through a partnering academic institution, such as the University of Johannesburg and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

The candidates spend one full year gaining experience within the industry prior to theoretical learning by working within the hotels, They also work in a number of hotels while studying, being placed in different types of hotels so that they gain exposure to a wide range of hotels and markets.  The goal of the programme is to equip trainees with practical skills, theoretical knowledge and a broad understanding of the hospitality industry to grow into the next generation of South African hospitality leaders, opening the doors to a world of opportunity.

Memani highlights the benefit that the programme can bring to candidates through the example of a recently appointed General Manager of the Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens.  “Karen Battaliou, the Protea Hotels Graduate of the Year for 2010, joined the Accelerate programme straight after matric, and she has risen through the ranks of the organisation quickly.  Her first appointment as a General Manager before the age of 30 is recognition both for the quality of our in-service training and for Karen herself.”

According to Memani, “The investment in a programme like this is not small, but the rewards are huge.  Our organisation took a long-term view when we decided to go this route, and we have seen the benefits for quite a while now.  Without this pool of experience and skills, we would struggle to provide for the strong management and leadership roles needed by Protea Hotels by Marriott.  We must be able to deliver on the standards set by our parent company, Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain.”

Tsogo Sun Hotels Deaf Chef Programme

In March 2010, Tsogo Sun in partnership with KwaZulu-Natal Deaf Association (KZNDA) and the National Institute for the Deaf (NID), developed a programme that would create employment opportunities to empower persons with disabilities in the hospitality industry.

Since its inception, Garden Court Umhlanga hotel has been at the forefront of the project with KZNDA as a partner and has spent many hours sensitising all teams and adapting the standard hotel ways of working. The Association came to the hotel to configure the kitchen layout, introduce flashing warning lights, provide relevant signage and bringing in the first group of candidates. Following the first group selection, KZNDA ran a Deaf Sensitisation workshop and introduced basic and sector specific Sign Language to the hearing staff that would be working closely with the Deaf trainee chefs.

“It has been wonderful experience working alongside Tsogo Sun, as it was a first of its kind in the province and for the Association. As with any pilot project, there were challenges along the way which have been a learning curve for us all. No one is as Deaf as the man who will not listen – Tsogo Sun listened and saw the value that Deaf chefs could add to the group and provided them with the opportunity to make their dreams come true.” shares Dale Schonewolf, Director of KwaZulu Natal Deaf Association.

The next key milestone for the programme is for the hotels to work closely with NID on skills improvement to upskill the chefs to allow them the same opportunities to develop further into senior roles in the organisation.” shares Jackson.

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