'A qualification, not just a few hundred quid'

29th April 2005 at 01:00
Some people who take jobs in Dave Bithell's kitchen expect a bit of a holiday camp. It is in a holiday camp, after all - or at least a schools'

outdoor centre on the beautiful Dorset coast.

The reality of providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for 900 children can be sobering, however, says Mr Bithell, catering manager at 3D Education and Adventure outdoor centre near Weymouth.

So, for the past two years, 3D has been offering its young catering workers the chance to take apprenticeships. "If we can educate them about catering and food hygiene and the rest, maybe it will give them a bit of direction in life, and in 10 years' time they may be a chef or bar supervisor," he says. "They leave at the end of the season with a qualification and not just a few hundred quid."

Indeed, he believes so strongly in training that 3D is paying for older staff to take them, too. He's taking an NVQ himself. "We'll pay for anybody who wants to do this, so long as they're committed," he says. Although the season lasts barely nine months, that's enough for most to get through an NVQ. Catering staff live on-site, so day-release courses run by training firm Paragon are held at the centre.

Mr Bithell believes it encourages his staff to stay all season and even return to take the next level. He has also noticed greater professionalism.

"It makes them think more about what they're doing; they're more serious about their work. I find they're better with guests as well."

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