Name of Network: Restaurant & Hospitality Skillnet
Sector(s) covered: Restaurants, Cafés, Pubs, Gastropubs, Hotels & Catering
Year established: 2017
Please describe what your network does and how it came about?
The Restaurant & Hospitality Skillnet was established by the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), the representative body for the restaurant industry in Ireland. The Restaurant & Hospitality Skillnet was formed in March 2017 with the purpose of providing training to those working in restaurants and the wider hospitality industry from owners to managers, supervisors, front of house and back of house staff.
Our main objective is to provide training to upskill employees and help employers remain competitive and deliver quality products and services. The network provides training on a national basis. We provide skills and knowledge training to the industry delivered through one day workshops, modular courses, e-learning courses and virtual workshops. We also tailor in-company training to suit the needs of our members.
Can you outline one key way your network impacted positively on the sector?
We have developed an online Complete Restaurant Training bundle with 12 courses for both front of house and back of house staff. This e-learning training programme offers employers on a small budget a chance to upskill all their staff on the basic knowledge training that is needed to perform these basic skills. This course has been described as ‘exactly what we need’ by members and to date has contributed to training 2,533 individuals. Each year we are establishing and strengthening relationships with businesses within our sector.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
In recent months, we have seen restaurants and hotels becoming innovative with their products and services. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the industry, businesses have had to change the way in which they operate to keep their businesses afloat. We have seen members embracing technology, enabling them to deliver food and drink to customers despite not being open for business as usual. Restauranteurs have widely embraced food delivery, engaging with third party delivery services and using technology like WhatsApp to take orders while ensuring Health & Safety measures are still met. We have seen members recreating menus to offer only their ‘most popular’ dishes and reaching maximum orders within an hour or two of opening. Some members are also delivering ‘DIY’ dinner packages, allowing customers to cook their favourite meals from the comfort of their homes with step by step instructions. Not only are members embracing new ways of using technology for delivery, they are also using Facebook Live or Instagram Live for live cook along demonstrations. These innovative strategies that have been implemented over the last few months are sure to be adapted by many other businesses in the months/years to come.
What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?
As with many industries, advancements in technology are already having an impact on the restaurant and hospitality industry. In many hotels mobile phones are used as the check in points and as key cards to rooms. Hotels will have to adapt and integrate augmented reality without taking the human element out of the hospitality experience. Online food ordering is already and will continue to impact on restaurants.
Consumers are also focusing on diet elements such as weight management, digestive health and energy boosting foods and drinks. Innovation in the kitchen along with cost management fundamentals will be essentials for businesses to attract tourists and locals. We address these trends through our Kitchen Management Training and Innovation Workshops.
With employees focusing on a work-life balance, our industry will need to perhaps change or create an organisational culture that addresses this balance. We offer positive wellbeing training for staff and coaching skills for managers and employers to invest in employee wellness and retaining their current workforce.
How is your Network using technology to facilitate learning and development programmes?
Currently we have two e-learning programmes, a Restaurant Induction Bundle and Complete Restaurant Training programme which has over 12 courses included. As mentioned, our e-learning programmes have been one of our most successful training initiatives to date due to ease of access, simplicity of use and the quality of the programmes.
We are also now delivering our training courses and workshops virtually through Zoom. Due to the webinar/meeting functions within Zoom such as polls feature, break out rooms and chat, trainees are learning as if they are in the classroom. We have found virtual delivery to be very successful for our network and have received really positive feedback from our members.
We are also embracing technology to deliver a training programme to help our members get their businesses online over the coming months.
What skills do you think are most important for a small business owner/manager?
I think small business owners or managers need to be skilled in all areas – leadership, communications, time management, strategic planning etc. to run successful businesses. It is very important for owners and managers to continually upskill themselves in order to remain competitive and have a dedicated team within the business. Getting involved with a Skillnet Ireland Network is a great way for small business owners to upskill themselves and their team due to the wide range and types of training programmes offered across the 70 Networks. It also gives businesses the chance to network with other business owners and learn from their experiences.
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Network?
I would advise a business to join a Skillnet Network that is specific to their industry or region. Talk to that Network and get more information on what they offer and learn how you can benefit from getting involved. Skillnet Ireland Networks have the expertise to tailor and deliver training programmes and events to support you and meet your business needs.