DEVONSHIRE GROUP’S SUCCESSFUL ACADEMY LAUNCH SPARKS SECOND INTAKE FOR SPRING

The Devonshire Hotels and Restaurant Group is currently recruiting a further intake for their Hospitality Academy, starting in March, as part of their new year recruitment programme. In addition, two recruitment fares will take place at the end of January, one at The Devonshire Arms Hotel and Spa, in Bolton Abbey, and the other at The Cavendish Hotel in Baslow.

Initially launched last October, the 18-month Hospitality Academy programme, supported by HIT Training, has proved to be a tremendous success for The Devonshire Group – one of the UK’s leading hospitality businesses, whose properties include hotels, inns and cottages on the Bolton Abbey Estate in the Yorkshire Dales and the Chatsworth Estate in the Peak District.

Eight recruits took part in the initial Academy training, all of whom were new starters who had demonstrated a genuine interest in working in the hospitality sector and developing their professional skills. Two of the more mature candidates had left previous careers to follow dream roles, more aligned to their passions. Encouraged by the pandemic to rethink their priorities, both men decided to pursue their love of cooking and retrain to be Chefs. Daniel was a prison officer before he joined The Devonshire Arms in Beeley on the Chatsworth Estate. Stephen swopped his office-based role in London for a move North, where he works at The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey, within the Burlington kitchen team.

Devonshire Group

All eight recruits are now flourishing in their new roles and enjoying the varied courses of study, which have included social media training, such as LinkedIn profile building, a Cheshire Catering College skills course on vegetable proteins and a food photography session. Planned sessions include foraging on the estates and a Masterchef-style competition. 

For the next Academy course, starting in March, The Devonshire Group aims to attract ‘Front of House’ personnel, including housekeeping, bar tenders, waiting staff and receptionists. Once more, the 18-month journey will culminate in a recognised industry qualification at Level Two and a permanent job offer which is guaranteed upon the successful completion of their studies and on-the-job training. Further training and career development is encouraged on an on-going basis.

The educational modules will be varied, incorporating both general hospitality skills and techniques, along with an insight into areas more specific to The Devonshire Arms and its sister properties, examples of this include a Day with a Gamekeeper on the Estate, Understanding the Customer Spa Journey and Dog Handling and Psychology – Plus a familiarisation trip to the Champagne region of France. All of which will give the new starters a valuable insight into the Group’s customer experience.

Devonshire Group

The Academy, developed in response to national staff shortages in the hospitality arena, which arose in the wake of Brexit, creating a shortage of people in the workforce, which was only heightened by the pandemic, is not the only avenue that the Group is exploring. They also plan to partner with schools in Derbyshire who form part of the region’s ‘Embark Federation’, who share similar values to The Devonshire Group, i.e. Family, Integrity, Teamwork and Success.

In this longer-term initiative, Chefs will work alongside local primary and secondary school children on interactive projects, with the aim of educating and inspiring students from a young age. Projects are to include cookery demonstrations with local grown and farmed produce, try-at-home video recipes, and for older children, the opportunity to stage a drinks and canapés reception for parents and teachers. Richard Palmer, himself once a local pupil and now Managing Director of The Devonshire Group, will introduce the participating schools at an assembly address.   

The Devonshire Group is committed to rise above the uncertainty of recent times and inspire the necessary awareness and motivation to attract new people to the hospitality industry.  Richard Palmer, explains further:

“The last couple of years has certainly been a challenging time for our industry, and yet I do believe that in leaning into the face of adversity, we are emerging in far better shape. Gone are the disreputable aspects of a hospitality career path, say, the long hours, time sacrificed that could have been spent with family and so on. We are invoking the passion for our industry – the variety, the creativity, the interaction with people, communication skills, the sustainability and being part of community – all of these are the good things, which the pandemic has ironically made us value even more so. Our focus now is on how we can improve the guest experience ultimately, and we know that having a happy, well-balanced, motivated team, fully supports our business and in turn, our community.

I have been really enjoying meeting our new starters and interacting with them. I find myself learning from them too, as they enter the business with fresh eyes and eager minds – everyone is benefitting from the ripple effect which is impacting everyone in the business. Alongside our Academy starters, we also have recruits from a variety of schemes such as the Government’s Kickstart programme, aimed at the 16 – 24 years age group, and we two supported internships, part of a separate project with Craven College. I firmly believe that this grassroots approach is the way forward, as opposed to the traditional college learning programmes. It’s more dynamic and inspiring to have this applied learning, giving teams more tangible goals to work towards. It also offers an insight, early on in a young person’s career of the huge diversity of roles on offer, and the job satisfaction that can be had from working their way up in our industry.

I relate to this with personal experience, having started out my own career as a bar attendant at The Devonshire Brasserie. By age 21, I was managing a £1m turnover business and 25 staff, and by my mid 30’s I became the Group’s MD. There is a wealth of opportunities for people from all walks of life, who are ready to apply themselves and are eager to learn and develop. For those wanting to go right to the top, we offer training right through to MBA level.”

The Devonshire Group has an ongoing recruitment programme, and is currently recruiting a variety of roles across the group.

Recruitment days in January take place in Yorkshire and Derbyshire, as follows:

  • Wednesday 26 January at 3-4pm and 6-7pm at The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa, Bolton Abbey
  • Thursday 27 Jan at 3-4pm and 6-7pm at The Cavendish Hotel, Baslow

Attendees are guaranteed an interview and have chance to speak with senior members of the hotel team. Candidates can simply turn up on the day, but can also register their interest via email: hr@devonshiregroup.co.uk

For more information about The Devonshire Hospitality Academy, see www.devonshirehotels.co.uk/academy

For more information about careers at Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants Group, visit www.devonshirehotels.co.uk/careers

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