By Gaby Huddart
Sutcliffe Catering is asking its entire staff of 24,000 what their career aspirations are and whether they want to learn new skills.
The company is also offering them the opportunity to take distance learning courses or to do project work in order to build their professional qualifications.
Under the scheme, called Steps to Success, which is being launched next month, all staff from directors to catering assistants and kitchen porters will have a job review to gauge how they are performing in their current role.
"The job review will involve an assessment of their job, their skills and knowledge and whether there are any gaps. They will build up a Portfolio of Achievement which will document all the things they have achieved in their career," Jan Adamson, group executive development manager, told Caterer.
"The last page of the portfolio asks what staff want to achieve: would they like a formal qualification, would they like career training, do they want to go into management and so on," Adamson explained. "That portfolio is then sent here to head office and we write back to them with recommendations on learning and development."
Mrs Adamson said it was not compulsory for staff to document their aspirations. "If people are happy doing what they are doing they can leave the page blank," she said.
But the company hopes at least 10% of staff will participate in the first few months of the scheme, which is costing tens of thousands of pounds to develop. The aim is to create a more professional, better-qualified and motivated work-force.
The company has devised a large range of distance learning packages to cater for the different levels of staff, most of them accredited by external organisations so staff can receive nationally recognised qualifications.
"For example, if a catering manager has no formal qualification we would recommend they work towards an HCIMA certificate in hospitality management," explained Mrs Adamson.
She added that although staff would be expected to study in their own time, Sutcliffe would provide all the necessary learning materials, guides and support.
Staff were being given no guarantees new qualifications would lead to financial rewards but the implication was that learning new skills would help people get on in the company, Mrs Adamson added.
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