Following our recent article on catering equipment training, Steve Elliott, managing director of Serviceline, one of the largest commercial kitchen service firms in the UK with 120 engineers, outlines how it is managing the changing training requirements of its staff today.
“Serviceline has a full-time training manager and health and safety manager and a number of other office staff spend a considerable proportion of their time in support of training, either through providing specialist training, such as product-specific training in refrigeration or cooking equipment, or in booking courses and accommodation.
“Some staff have specialist skills in particular equipment, such as Granuldisk or Wexiodisk granular potwashers and, when required, carry out training on these machines, normally on site.
“We estimate that, as an average, one week per year is spent per engineer in training, though this varies enormously depending on how qualified the engineer is and the type of work they undertake.
“Training is a long-term investment. Ongoing cost is £4,000 to £5,000 per man per year, to which needs to be added the office cost in terms of booking courses, accommodation and travel.
“All engineers receive ongoing training, particularly the gas ACS, which is a week-long assessment and must be completed every five years. But Serviceline also holds gas training in-house and on site, including two days’ preparation for ACS assessment.
“We also hold internal electrical courses with assessment and rigs tests, and workshop health and safety training. Other courses in-house include ACAS supervisor training, MEWP (mobile platforms), PASMA (tower erecting), C&G Diploma courses, and in-house workshop training, for example the correct use of power tools and first aid.
“Serviceline currently has five apprentices — three catering equipment and two refrigeration. Apprenticeships last six years for prime cooking equipment and include OND or HND college qualifications. Refrigeration training adds two years to this process, so an eight-year apprenticeship in total for some!
“As new products enter the market, we ensure our engineers and technicians receive the knowledge and understanding of these products and are provided with onsite training and any other support required.
“When manufacturers introduce new equipment, such as Rational introducing a new combi, our engineers which specialise in combis will receive the appropriate training update.
“Engineers need to be trained to be competent on the equipment that falls within their geographic area. For example, a contract win can introduce a type of equipment for which the local engineer will need training if they are currently not qualified. This process is monitored via our head office and sales support as part of the on-cost of managing engineers.
“All in all, the best employees are the ones we train ourselves and we train from the bottom up. Training is accepted as an ongoing cost of running a service/maintenance business to the highest standard.”