As a programme manager, I facilitate a number of different Springboard Programmes. I love all of them, but one that has resonated with me the most is the GEMS (Graduate Education Mentoring Scheme) Programme. I finished my degree in 2014, and quite frankly, it was one of the proudest moments of my life. For personal reasons, completing my degree seemed like an impossible challenge; and my dissertation … well, there were a lot of late nights, sat up typing with a can of energy juice only fingertips away (I do not advise this method, if it can be avoided!).
Throughout my degree, there were many people I could ask for advice; my mum, my employers, my lecturers and other students. More often than not, my questions would lead to more questions that no one else could answer. I completed lots of work experience throughout my degree, for a range of different companies. I did a lot of networking – made lots of acquaintances and many connections on LinkedIn – but I never really had one person to whom I could ask the ‘daft’ or obscure questions. Nor did I have someone challenge me as to why I was undertaking sporting event work experience when I didn’t have (and still do not have) any interest in sport.
I am incredibly lucky to have the support network that I now have – but at that point, I never had one person who I could call a mentor. Then I moved down south, and started working at the Royal Oak. My mentors at the Royal Oak nurtured my professionalism, taught me about the industry and both supported – and questioned – my ideas, ensuring I knew what I was doing before I finalised any decision.
Many of the students undertaking a hospitality degree don’t follow their degree into the industry, instead choosing to go elsewhere. Hospitality is full to the brim of interesting and talented people from all over the world, with many different stories to tell. Sometimes I think the stereotypes that hospitality have gained over the years masks the greatness of the industry!
By matching undergraduates to some of our industry leaders, those stories and experiences can be shared - inspiring a whole new generation. The big bad world is a scary place for most people, and for those completing degrees the world becomes their oyster. This newfound freedom can bring uncertainty, fear and anxiety – but a mentor can guide, answer questions, and support you in those new situations. I know that if I had had an industry mentor early on in my degree I would’ve taken on more relevant work experience and perhaps found where my skills lie a little earlier in life.
And mentoring is a two-way street. Mentors mixing with a student who is perhaps 20 years their junior will be shown new ways of thinking too. In addition, it will provide a new focus for their career, and someone to inspire, who will love to hear their stories.
The GEMS programme is amazing and I am sure that the students we support through this will do great things. However, I know Springboard would love to support even more – and that’s why we need you. Whether you are a student, a lecturer, a friend, or an industry leader. If you can think of someone that could benefit from this programme, please ask them to get in touch with us – because we would love to help them! https://charity.springboard.uk.net/programmes-activities/springboard-gems
Last year, we partnered with Just Eat to create a brand new initiative – the Just Eat Skills Kitchen - which aims to inspire, train and hire people with the potential to build a career in the takeaway restaurant sector and help them become the hospitality heroes of tomorrow.
The Just Eat Skills Kitchen will help people develop technical and professional skills in a variety of areas from kitchen through to front of house and help them hone those skills to build their future careers.
Just Eat works with more than 28,500 restaurant partners across the UK. The programme will connect people with potential to some of these restaurant partners, who will share their knowledge with the programme participants through mentoring sessions, career presentations in educational institutions, and more.
We spoke to Sharon Carline, the owner of Brunch in Prescott, to see why she joined Just Eat Skills Kitchen.
Why do you want to take part in the Just Eat Skills Kitchen?
“There is currently a massive skills shortage within the industry, with owners searching for people with the same commitment and passion for food and customer service as they have. People don’t always consider the takeaway and hospitality industry when thinking about their career plans. This initiative is fantastic because it enables us to show people all that the industry has to offer and give them the opportunities and support they need to build their own careers."
Why is this initiative a good fit for your business?
“At Brunch, we’re always looking to attract staff who are in it for the long run – people we can train up and help to grow not just in their future careers but as people too. Not only is it of benefit to them, it is also critical for supporting our own growth strategy for when we want to open more sites. And having already worked with chef apprentices who have flourished during their time at Brunch, we know that the best way to do that is by attracting the right people in the first place.”
What do you think people can gain from joining this industry?
"Takeaway is a dynamic and exciting industry, which allows for quick career progression and teaches you a range of vital life and professional skills. Not only that, but it’s an arena for creativity, allowing your passions to shine through in everything you produce. It’s also the perfect place for people who want to develop their social skills – with customer service at the heart of everything that we do.”
Springboard’s largest annual fundraiser, The Big Event, raised a whopping £56,222 for their charitable causes.
The evening marked the start of the UK’s largest hospitality trade-show, Hotelympia, and is the biannual exhibition’s official gala dinner. This year they threw-back to the 30’s, with a fabulous Gatsby-inspired theme – including an electro-swing band, talented jazz dancers and – in keeping with the prohibition theme – delicious alcoholic ice cream. There was also a delightful three course meal, enjoyed by all.
All proceeds of the event will help continue Springboard’s programmes, which give people with barriers to work to gain the skills and confidence needed to gain work within the hospitality industry. They do this through a range of fundraisers and events – including a yearly pantomime, treks across the globe and cycle challenges from London to Paris.
The event was sponsored by Remit, Levy UK, drp group, Conviviality, Off to Work, Bidfood, Stickleback Fish, Braehead Foods, Davin Foods, Town & Country Fine Foods, Speakeasy, Cawston Press, Wenlock Spring, Table Art, Diageo, Stalbridge Linen, Reynolds, and Nigel Fredericks. All contributed fantastic products and services, and helped the charity to raise funds for vital programmes.
Anne Pierce, Springboard’s CEO, used the occasion to encourage guests to give back to those less fortunate. She said, “while we enjoy the glamour of this evening, it’s important to remember why we’re here – to help raise funds for those who need it most. These include our fantastic employability programmes like KickStart, and our inspirational FutureChef programme.”