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Paul Preston - HAW 2019


Hospitality Apprenticeship Week 2019 - a positive experience

Did you know the hospitality and tourism sector is the third largest employer in the UK, and the hospitality industry employs over 3.2 million people? The sector is dynamic and diverse, yet it can still be viewed as a stop gap on the pathway to another career rather than an industry that can provide a lifetime of rewarding work.

As the 19th largest employer in the world, with 36,000 people in the UK & Ireland alone, Sodexo is passionate about promoting all that hospitality has to offer – rapid career development, the ability to train in multiple fields and even the chance to travel the world!

Hospitality Apprenticeship Week launches today (5 August), and Sodexo’s Paul Preston, Retail and Leisure Support Manager, shares his love for the industry and his positive experiences with developing apprentices.

I love the diversity of the hospitality industry – there are so many different areas you can involve yourself in, if you have the right skill set

Paul 1“I’m part of a team providing catering, retail and leisure services for one of the country’s biggest defence catering contracts, at Allenby-Connaught. We have huge restaurants that can feed up to 1,200 people, and 46 high-end regimental messes, which hold dinners, balls and other high profile events. There are 60 different dining areas for our chefs to test their skills and learn their trade.”

Sodexo’s catering team at Allenby-Connaught is spread across the army’s southern England heartland of Warminster to Aldershot. The operation has grown by 20 per cent in the past five years as the British Army repatriated thousands of soldiers from Germany back to the United Kingdom.

“We feed approximately 8,000 troops and civilian contractors every day,” says Paul. “That needs a lot of chefs and over the last five years we have really focussed on attracting apprentices.

“It’s a great environment for apprentice chefs to thrive and learn in. They can enjoy on the job training with a great company, enrol on professional courses and enter culinary competitions, all while earning a wage. It’s definitely a better avenue than catering college in my opinion: you start to learn straight away in a realistic environment.” 
Paul says 30 chefs have now passed through the one-year apprenticeship scheme in the Allenby-Connaught kitchens and have launched their catering careers with the NVQ Level 2 qualification in Professional Cookery. 

Paul 2HIT Training, one of Sodexo’s apprenticeship providers, support apprentices within the field of hospitality to ‘up-skill’. Paul is also keen for the apprentices at Allenby-Connaught to refine their cooking skills by entering culinary competitions including Sodexo’s own Chef of the Year.

Earlier this year commis chef apprentice Patrycia Gora, based at the Bhurtpore Barracks at the Tidworth Garrison, was a finalist at the Craft Guild of Chef’s Awards, the ‘Oscar’s of the food industry’.

Our Sodexo apprenticeship programme not only brings new chefs to our industry, it allows us to invest in people of all ages

“We are able to give people this opportunity to start off on a new career path. I love to see the apprentices we have succeed and stay with Sodexo. It’s such a great advert for us and for them.”

If you are looking to start your Sodexo apprenticeship journey within the hospitality industry, you can register your interest by filling in this form - click here.


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Paul Preston, Government & Agencies Catering, Retail and Leisure Support Manager, says apprentices are essential to helping to keep his kitchens ticking

August 05, 2019

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