Brain power: catering equipment qualifications

It is no exaggeration to say that for any catering equipment professional looking to broaden their skills — or indeed anyone interested in a career in the sector — far more opportunities to attain industry-specific qualifications now exist than ever before.

This is mainly due to developments that have taken place inside the last 18 to 24 months. You could argue that the momentum was started by the Certified Food Service Professional (CFSP) programme, which has subsequently gained a growing reputation for giving staff at consultancies, distributors and manufacturers a rounded understanding of the wider industry.

More than 250 people have so far passed the exam, which is held twice a year. More recently, the emergence of Tri Education — a three-way initiative between CEDA, CESA and the FCSI — has resulted in a number of highly relevant and rewarding vocational courses being conceived.

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This includes MSc/PgDip/PgCert International Hospitality Design and Management Consultancy, a three-year masters course that provides an innovative and challenging experience for consultants, designers and planners working or intending to work in the hospitality industry. It aims to improve participants’ understanding and judgement, and their ability to communicate and operate effectively.

Additionally, there are now four separate continual personal development (CPD) courses in place, offering a unique opportunity for individuals to increase their knowledge of key industry areas over a 12-week period. Each CPD course costs £1,100.

“We really do want to emphasise that we have blended the training together in a programme that is not only for our members but people who are actually interested in coming into our industry or interested in learning to complement whatever job they are doing outside of our industry,” explains Vita Whitaker, CEDA’s deputy chair and one of the driving forces behind Tri Education. “We want to continue developing these courses, always with a view that we become much more valued with our clients.”

The first group of students to take the CPD in Kitchen and Equipment Design and Production Techniques have just finished their course, which is set to run again in October. A CPD in Hospitality Project Management and a CPD in Hospitality Customer Care are scheduled to commence in the first half of this year, while a CPD in Hospitality Management Consultancy will be launched in September.

Tri Education has consciously chosen to work with universities that are renowned for their expertise in the hospitality industry in order to deliver the most compelling course content and ensure the best work placements and site visits.
CPD courses are designed to fit in with the working lives of students, too. Apart from enrolment, occasional tutor-led sessions and site visits, all studying is carried out remotely.

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“The individual will get their student sign-on as though they are full-time students and they have 12 weeks to complete the course, with full access to all the learning and library materials,” explains Whitaker. “The marking criteria is all the same, so they get firsthand experience of how to write a professional assignment that meets academic requirements. That is particularly useful if they haven’t done a previous degree or undergraduate certificate.”

Her Whitco colleague Josh Walker has just completed the Kitchen and Equipment Design CPD. He says: “I had a great time. The experience of working in a kitchen really opened my eyes to the day-to-day difficulties that chefs face and hopefully I can implement these thoughts into future designs and make the chef’s life a little easier!”

One less obvious benefit of all these courses is that they also encourage those on them to interact and share experiences with their peers through their time together on campus, during site visits and through group Skype calls.

Whitaker notes that many of those who completed the MSc degree — as well as those currently finishing the first CPD course — have commented on the sense of camaraderie they felt. Not only is this important for fostering a sense of community in the catering equipment market, but it helps stoke people’s passion for the industry and create a platform for networking in the future.

One other significant aspect of the CPD courses is that students can use them to accumulate university credits if they wish. So, theoretically, anybody who completes the Project Management and Management Consultancy CPDs, for example, could go on to complete the Masters degree without having to repeat the two modules they have already done.

In the coming weeks, Tri Education plans to launch its own dedicated website that provides a single place for visitors to go to for information on all courses that are available. And while administrative work will still continue to be carried out by the secretaries of the three organisations involved, Whitaker eventually hopes to see more autonomy introduced to reduce some of that manual burden.

For the moment, though, the emphasis is on ensuring that existing courses are fully subscribed and the momentum builds. While Whitaker and her counterparts in Tri Education are fully focused on the here and now, she can’t help but look ahead and consider other subjects that would directly benefit catering equipment professionals.

“As far as this year goes, I would like to have the four CPD courses full and because they are very pertinent to our business continue them next year. There might also be something to do with marketing and HR — again, looking at key skills that are needed in the workplace and understanding how they fit into our industry,” she says.

It’s now up to the foodservice industry to embrace the courses that are planned and make the most of them. As Whitaker concludes: “The main thing is that we have now got focused training at affordable prices, delivered in a concise time and which will add value to any business.”

Guide to CPDs

Kitchen and Equipment Design and Production Techniques
Provides an understanding of professional kitchens and food production areas from a functional design perspective. Kitchen, equipment, hygiene, maintenance, safety and cost are covered.

Hospitality Project Management
Offers candidates an overview of the skills required for the strategic planning and structured implementation of hospitality projects.

Hospitality Customer Care
Provides an insight to customer care and how it impacts on business success. The course helps students make the services at their company memorable and exceed customer expectations.

Hospitality Management Consultancy
Examines, in detail, the role of consultancy in the perspectives and requirements of international hospitality clients.

More details for all of the above CPD courses can be obtained by emailing fiona@ceda.co.uk or calling 01386 793911

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