It's Just Carrying Plates?
“All you’ll learn is how to carry plates and you can do that already – so what’s the point in a hospitality apprenticeship?”
It’s a question which both Amy Blair and Luke Mulhere were
asked by friends and family as they considered joining the Hospitality Apprentice
North East apprenticeship programme.
And it’s a question they gave due consideration to as they
considered if this was the right route for them.
Luke was already working on the food and beverage team at
weekends at Maryculter House while he was studying to be a personal trainer at
college when the apprenticeship was brought to his attention.
“I enjoyed being a waiter at Maryculter House, but I must
admit I was sceptical about how much more there was to learn. I don’t mind
saying now that I was so wrong.”
Amy, whose apprenticeship is with Douneside House Hotel by
Tarland, was asked the same question by someone close to her.
“I wasn’t aware of how much I would learn but at that stage,
but the idea of just carrying plates terrified me royally.
“In fact, on my first day I was asked to fill glasses at
diners’ tables and suddenly I had no idea how to fill it, let alone carry a
glass of water! It’s hard to think back to that now, but with the encouraging
support of my colleagues I went from carrying one glass to the dizzy heights of
three at one time. Now, I think nothing about carrying a dozen at a time.”
So, is the apprenticeship all just about serving skills as
Amy and Luke’s friends suggested?
“What I’ve loved from day one is the experience I get across
all departments,” continues Luke. As a part time member of the food and beverage
team I did my job but I wasn’t aware how my role fitting into the wider F &
B team and in turn how the F & B team fits into the whole running of the
“I didn’t realise there was so much to learn. Before I started,
I just went into a hotel room and took it for granted. I never considered how much
of a team effort it is across all departments to make a hotel room ready for a
stay and also the knock on effect if one element of the whole process isn’t
“Because you spend time on the apprenticeship in each
different departments, you develop an understanding of the links between each.
You can see the chain we create across the business.”
Amy agrees, “We pick up skill sets from each department,
without being thrown in the deep end. One of the big differences between
learning at college and on the apprenticeship programme, is that you don’t just
hear how to do something, you are actually doing it. You can tell your
colleagues that you are nervous or ask them to show you again, which is
something you don’t get the opportunity to do in a classroom situation.”
Far from just knowing how to carry plates, both Luke and Amy,
value the chance that the apprenticeship gives them to spend months working in
each department, with both agreeing that it’s giving them the chance to see
which department they enjoy – and where their future careers may lie.
For Luke that may be in housekeeping.
“Housekeeping really took me out of my comfort zone but it
is now my favourite department. It’s given me excellent time management skills
and an attention to detail which I – and my mum! – never thought I’d achieve. I
can also see the massive the role that housekeeping plays and the impact which
this has across the whole hotel and our guests. If the room is not clean or
it’s not ready on time, there’s a big knock-on effect.”
And for Amy, who has still to undergo her rotations, the
lure of front of house is beckoning her.
“I’m a people person and while I’ve really enjoyed the focus
and detail in housekeeping, I am looking forward to being in front of people
all day. That’s the good thing about a hotel, there’s a job in a hotel for
every personality type – and not just a job carrying plates.”