Devonshire Hospitality Academy awaits tomorrow’s shining stars

5th August 2021
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The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group is launching a professional training academy this autumn, to support new employees, of all age groups, in the development of their hospitality careers.  The Devonshire Hospitality Academy is an in-house training programme, which will lead to a recognised industry qualification at Level 2 Apprenticeship.

This exciting new development is a direct response to a growing trend over recent years and heightened by the pandemic, where there has been resistance to entering the hospitality industry, and to gaining qualifications via the traditional college route system. Crucially, the Academy route offers the guarantee of a promotion to a permanent full-time role, upon successful completion of the course. 

Places will be awarded to staff starting full time hospitality roles at all businesses throughout the Group’s portfolio, across both the Chatsworth and Bolton Abbey Estates. Both country estates, owned by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, enjoy a stunning National Park location in The Derbyshire Peak District and The Yorkshire Dales. 

This latest initiative complements a wider ranging review taking place within The Devonshire Group, examining areas such as working patterns, unsociable hours, work pressure and rates of pay, which have often lagged behind those of competitor industries.

Rates of pay have been reviewed and now reflect an individual’s contribution to the business, rather than statutory pay levels being the default. Trainees will be offered a starting salary in line with their age, which is way above apprenticeship rates. Once qualified, a Chef de Partie, working a 48-hour week, can earn £25,858 per annum, plus gratuities of around £2,000.

This focus on work/life balance and staff wellbeing is not a new emphasis for the Devonshire group. One ground-breaking change undertaken in recent years, was the successful introduction of the four-day week, with no split-shifts, for their Chefs. This has played a part in designing the optimal working environment, to benefit the mental health and camaraderie of all team members

Richard Palmer, Managing Director of The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants Group commented,

Richard Palmer Managing Director of Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group

This is a particularly exciting project for me, and the hospitality industry and the opportunities it presents is an area for which I have such passion…. The key message from me is that this is an invitation to gain invaluable life skills, which are transferable to many aspects of the hospitality industry, and beyond – for example, I know ex Chefs who are now hotel managers, working as Head of Innovation, and MDs of foodservice companies. This grassroots approach is a viable and dynamic alternative to the traditional college route.

I relate to this with personal experience, having started out my own career as a bar attendant at The Devonshire Brasserie. By age 21, I was managing a £1m turnover business and 25 staff, and by my mid 30’s I became the Group’s MD. There are now a wealth of opportunities for people from all walks of life, who are ready to apply themselves and are eager to learn and develop. For those wanting to go to the top, we offer training right through to MBA level. The world is your oyster, to coin a phrase!

The challenges of recent times have presented us all with a chance to look at things afresh, and seek more fulfilment from our working lives, and appreciate that there has never been a better time to learn new skills and join this dynamic industry. For those of us already established in our careers, now is the time to give others the benefit of our experience and share our passion.” 

The programme content for the 18-month long Academy will vary, depending on the individual role.  Content will be delivered via a monthly schedule of workshops, covering topics such as the Customer Dining Experience, Foraging on the Estate, a Day with a Supplier, Knife skills. The programme also provides assistance with online profile building in Social Media Workshops, understanding profitability and costings in Commercial Awareness Training, and Mental Health Awareness Training. Ongoing support will be provided by a mentor, typically an experienced member of their own team, along with the Resident Manager, or Head of Operations.

Another initiative taken by The Devonshire Group is the creation of 33 six-month placements under the Government’s new Kickstart scheme. The scheme provides funding for the creation of jobs for youngsters (aged 16-24 years) who are receiving Universal Credit. Supporting the national ‘Plan for Jobs’ initiative these new positions may be brand new, or existing, but the key aspect is that they are additional to the employer’s normal workforce. The placements run both estates and include gardeners, farmyard and adventure playground assistants, a dry stone waller and commis Chef.

The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurant Group’s owners, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire entwine their own Cavendish family values within our core company values, so the ethos of “Always Improving, Being Inclusive and Decency” are prominent within the business. Training is an ongoing priority with investment in professional development, including the ‘Stepping Up’ program, as well as the encouragement to enter personal and professional awards, and of course the new Academy training too.

The Devonshire Group is searching to recruit a variety of permanent roles who enter Academy training and support, with the guarantee of a permanent role upon completion. Roles include chefs, front of house, housekeeping and management positions, as well as Kickstart placements for young people.

Applicants interested in joining the Devonshire Hospitality Academy can apply here!


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