In the first of a new regular series, Cedabond commercial director Mark Kendall will be sharing his takes on various aspects of the UK catering equipment market, starting with the importance of thorough training:
On my travels around the country, visiting dealers and suppliers, it’s interesting to hear their often contrasting views. However, one area in which there seems to be a consensus is training. The view, widely held, is that many businesses regard training as secondary to sales.
We live in uncertain times and so to a degree this is understandable, but as an industry we must not lose sight of the fact that long term business success relies upon being able to encourage new blood into the hospitality sector, particularly from mid and higher education. Our industry is exciting and diverse and once you are in you rarely leave – we need to communicate this to the younger generation, the future business leaders.
When it comes to product training, time is at a premium for dealers and having key personnel out of their business attending standalone training events is viewed by some as being counter-productive. This is why initiatives delivered by Cedabond (and others) that provide training and awareness sessions from multiple suppliers over the course of a single day have been welcomed by dealers, allowing them to cover off a wide range of suppliers whilst having a limited effect on their daily trading activity.
But are they enough? Many suppliers that I have spoken to feel that dealers should be more receptive to the training they offer and that a change in the way it is delivered might help. As a result, online and video training, interactive programmes, and even purpose built apps, are just some of the solutions being mooted by suppliers in order to encourage dealers to engage.
CEDA has been successfully delivering an online solution for the past 3 years and links it to CPD credits. Some suppliers provide this, others do not. In an age where just about everybody under the age of 30 spends most of their time checking their mobile device why on earth would they want to leaf through a weighty training manual?
Interestingly, a couple of the conversations I have had about training have led onto another, not wholly unrelated topic: recruitment. Many feel, as do I, that as an industry we have operated in a silo mentality for too long, expecting good people to come to us and relying too heavily on recruitment agencies to move the workforce around within the industry rather than attracting, developing and retaining the young talent that exists both inside and outside of the industry. Training is vital to this process and needs to be imbedded in the relevant trade organisations, but it must be consistent and ongoing, a simple induction process is not sufficient.
So, given that there is clearly a desire to seek a solution that works for all maybe the time is right for a collective resource, managed by an independent body that can provide a suitable training platform with links and accreditations to CPD?