Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Education's role in the restaurant industry

Why training is as important as hands-on experience

Hands-on experience is undeniably important to developing an employee’s skills. But formal training is equally important. In fact, more than half of restaurant operators plan to devote more resources to employee training this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Why the increased emphasis?

Profitability. Most hospitality operations run as a business. For-profit operations and foodservice operations within hospitals and schools must be concerned with nutrition, cost-control, budgeting and human resources management. Having people on staff who are well-versed in such areas provides a competitive advantage.

Performance. In a similar vein, employers want to maximize productivity. Specific training in marketing, bar management and other areas creates an atmosphere of professionalism that can boost output and morale and decrease owners’ stress levels.

Education also can ensure cooks and other food handlers meet desired standards. Training ensures staff  follow proven safety guidelines and managers use consistent supervision practices on all shifts. Taking time to learn base knowledge gets everyone “on the same page” and can reduce errors, promote positive interactions, and provide guests with consistent quality.

Commitment. The hospitality industry offers opportunities to people from a variety of professional backgrounds. While many career-switchers have transferable skills useful to restaurant work, employers sometimes have difficulty seeing beyond a candidate’s former position. Employers might question an applicant’s true interest and wonder whether the job candidate might jump ship when a different opportunity arises. Look for résumés that include a relevant degree, certification or coursework to ease concerns about inexperienced candidates.

Employers show a commitment to employees’ long-term success by investing time and money in education. In a field with high turnover rates, training can be an important retention tool. It promotes staff stability and encourages workers to view their employment as a dynamic career path.

Thinking about educational needs
Some businesses have specific, company-wide objectives and policies when it comes to education. For instance, Delaware North Companies’ culinary and certification policy requires chefs to be certified within the first three years of employment. The company pays for the training because leaders believe it creates a baseline of culinary professionalism throughout the company, says Steve Eden, director of culinary and hospitality. Its certification program for front-of-house management allows managers to pursue certification with a professional body that reflects their area of operations, such as catering, fine dining, concessions, etc.

Other establishments evaluate individual needs and hire or train accordingly. For instance, some employers enrich their teams by adding someone with current training in a specific area or paying for an existing team member to learn new skills. The National Restaurant Association’s ManageFirst Program offers instruction in controlling foodservice costs, hospitality and restaurant management, human resources management, customer service, purchasing, accounting, bar and beverage management, nutrition and hospitality/restaurant marketing.

An employer looking for a strong overall manager might want to find someone with a ManageFirst Professional credential, which demonstrates a mastery of relevant core competencies in foodservice and hospitality. Recognizing the importance of both practical and academic knowledge, the course of study requires students to provide documentation of 800 hours of unpaid or paid industry work experience.

This content was provided by NRA partner CareerBuilder.

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