Celebrating National Apprenticeship Week
As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we wanted to celebrate our amazing apprentices, both those who are currently studying at City College and those who started out as Apprentices and have now progressed into management roles! Jonathan Morcom has been Director of The Duke since 2001 having come full circle from working at the hotel as a weekend porter in his mid-teens whilst he was studying hospitality at City College Plymouth. Jon thoroughly enjoyed the hands-on training both students and Apprentices experience at the College and when asked for a quote by the college last year said: “At College, you have a more independent way of learning, in a more relaxed environment, compared to school and you are treated as an adult.”
When discussing the value that Apprenticeships bring, Jon added: “Taking on Apprentices is a good thing for any business; it is something that I would recommend and is something we intend to do more of in the future. We really do endorse Apprenticeships and the College has been very supportive over the years throughout the recruitment process.”
Kevin, our Head Chef started off his career at The Duke as an Apprentice, he was then quickly promoted to Sous Chef before taking a couple of years out to travel and gain more experience. Upon his return to the hotel, the position of Head Chef became available, which he took with both hands! Kevin met his wife, Amy whilst working at the hotel. She started working on reception as an Apprentice and was later promoted to Senior Receptionist before leaving to have their two wonderful children.
Kaylon is currently undertaking an Apprenticeship as a trainee Chef, working in the kitchen four days a week. We caught up with him for a quick chat to find out how his apprenticeship is going.
Which level Apprenticeship are you currently studying?
I started off at a level two, which upon passing is equivalent to five GCSE passes at grades A* to C. I have recently progressed to level three which means I now manage my own section, upon completion this is equivalent to two A level passes.
What made you choose this route over A levels?
I have always found that I learn best from being hands-on and felt I would get the most out of an Apprenticeship. I wanted to know what it was like to work in a busy kitchen and to get the practical experience that comes alongside that. I knew my end goal and this seemed like the perfect stepping stone to achieve it.
When did you discover your passion for cooking?
I have always enjoyed cooking, one of my earliest memories is sitting with my nan and peeling potatoes whilst watching Saturday Kitchen. Despite cooking in a hot kitchen all day long, I still love to cook whenever I get the chance. I like to cook a wide variety of foods and don’t really have a favourite, the best part is watching people enjoy my food!
What skills have you gained during your apprenticeship?
In my first week of working at The Duke, I learned more than I had during all my previous experience combined! One of the first things I was taught to make was a sauce; I knew there were two types- gravy and a white sauce but I did not realise how much could be done with them! The chefs have been really supportive and have taught me a lot.
How are you assessed?
I work in the kitchen four out of five days and attend college one day a week, usually on a Wednesday. Every month or so, I am set a task and then assessed in the workplace. My favourite assignment has been to make a Bakewell Tart, which I had never made before. Head Chef was impressed and said it was brilliant!
Do you feel your apprenticeship has prepared you for working life?
Definitely! If I had not chosen this route, I would probably spend the majority of my time in a classroom, whilst undertaking work experience alongside sixth form. The level of experience and skills I have gained from my apprenticeship are invaluable and will hopefully prepare me for my career.
Would you recommend an apprenticeship?
I would recommend an apprenticeship if you know that you are certain about starting a career in that field. It is very different from school in that you are fully submerged into a work environment and are required to work as part of a team. I believe that this was the perfect route for me and is supported by one of my favourite quotes, “Choose a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”.
Whether it is through Apprenticeships, or furthering skills of existing staff, we are dedicated to investing in our team’s futures. In order to advance their career, Paulina, our Head Housekeeper alongside Melinda, our Assistant Housekeeping have recently signed up to undertake their Level three NVQ in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership. They will continue to work at the hotel and will be assessed on the job whilst continually progressing their skills.
We love working alongside City College and have a strong relationship. Julie McLean, Director of Work-based Learning at City College Plymouth said
“We have worked with the Duke of Cornwall on its Apprenticeship programme for many years. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to start a career, earning and learning in the workplace. Apprentices have great value from day one and can grow with the business. The College is one of the biggest providers of Apprenticeships in the region and has an achievement rate 16% above the national average. Our relationships with employers like the Duke of Cornwall are key to the programme’s success, working together to for the benefit of both the business and the apprentice. It has been very rewarding to see many of the Duke of Cornwall apprentices become full-time employees and progress their careers at the Hotel.”
During National Apprenticeship Week, we felt it was important to bring you stories of how our Apprentices operate in the workplace. If you feel that an Apprenticeship could be for you, please contact the team at City College Plymouth who will be more than happy to assist you.