where are all the older workers?
I REFER to your opinion "Will you still need me when I'm 64?", (Caterer, 5 March, page 27) in which you say: "What is required is an acknowledgement that there is a pool of mature workers out there that can fill many of the gaps left by the skills shortage."
I am a so-called mature person, aged 58, fit as a fiddle, working seven days a week, enjoying every moment, and I know that out there are people like me with tremendous skills, abilities, commitment and experience that have learnt by working and not through books.
At our restaurant we do believe in young people and their development and, indeed, employ two youngsters who are doing very well with their NVQ training. We also support mature workers and have employees aged up to 72. They are brilliant, and do every bit as well as our younger employees, and we would love to employ more of them.
Last week we advertised several positions and addressed the advert very prominently as "Opportunities for more mature people". The oldest person to apply was 32.
I rest my case. Sorry Forbes, I challenge yours.
raise the rates and solve the problem
WELL done, Forbes Mutch. You have acknowledged the fact that middle-aged personnel can, in some small way, solve the ever-increasing staff problems facing our industry.
But the real issue we still fail to address is the long-term problem. Yes, middle-aged personnel can solve an immediate problem so far as semi-skilled positions are concerned (ie, night porters, day porters, kitchen porters, housekeepers, etc), but we still lack personnel in the skilled sector, professional restaurant staff, skilled chefs, management trainees, etc.
I believe the only way we will solve the staff shortages is to compete directly with other major industries by raising the rates of pay, reducing the working week and putting into place quality training programmes.
We have always been looked upon as a stopgap industry, especially for students, housewives and single parents. Why? Because of our pay scales and low esteem.
We would not have the employment problems today if it was not for our past practices. So let me finish by saying to everyone out there, stop sitting on the fence and put into practice what we all know needs to be done.
Briars Hall Hotel,
staff loyalty works both ways
AS catering organisations continue to adapt and change, it is crucial that employees are not forgotten. All too often, long-serving employees are sidelined or "paid off". All organisations of whatever size and in whatever industry have a social and moral responsibility to ensure employees who no longer produce the efficiencies and profits demanded are managed out of the business in a professional way.
Remember, it is the organisation that made the employees what they are; therefore it is the organisation's responsibility to protect the people they no longer require. To me this is a key principle of Investors In People.
let's see more women at the top
MAY I use your columns to invite the boards of directors of Britain's hotels and conference venues to appoint more women as general managers.
Conference organisers of both sexes constantly refer to the special organisational and hospitality skills that female managers display, and also their unique qualities in ensuring delegate care.
The crucial point is that some 60% of meetings buyers and event planners are women, as are virtually half of all participating delegates.
Why then do women represent only 10-15% of those in charge of running venues?
Not only is this issue about fair play and equality, but there are also those who would argue that conferences definitely benefit from the womanly touch.
blinkered view of the real world
I WRITE to you with disbelief at the comments you printed from Brian Hannan in the recent Opportunities 98 Scotland supplement (Caterer, 23 February). I think that he is out of order. Having spoken to many industrialists and educationalists about the article, all are in agreement that his thoughts are that of an idealist, not a realist.
Two points he mentioned brought most reaction from colleagues and peers. First, that hospitality education is currently failing chefs. This is not true: the systems and courses that are available - run by colleges, training agencies, hotel groups, etc - are now more flexible and conducive to the development of the trainee, and are producing better qualified staff.
Second, that the benchmarks the Scottish Chefs Association sets will become the acceptable qualifications in Scotland. What an elitist statement. Does Mr Hannan not mean to add: "for those who can afford the money and time"?
We all strive to become better at our work and to live in today's world, but at the end of the day wages must be paid and profits made. Each individual employer will set their own benchmark within their establishment, be it a burger bar or a five-star hotel.
It is encouraging to see Mr Hannan's venture taking off, and I applaud his business acumen. However, he must be realistic with his views for the future now that he is dealing with the real world.
please support our commons visit
I AM appealing for help and financial support to facilitate an educational visit to the House of Commons on Monday 8 June.
The educational visit is being arranged for students from the School of Catering and Community Studies here at Thurrock College as a result of an invitation from David Atkinson MP to students on the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network Towards Independence course, who facilitate Monday lunchtime service in the restaurant together with NVQ 1/2 catering students. This is helping to forge a better understanding and future integration.
For the students, all of whom have disadvantaged backgrounds and many of whom have learning and/or physical difficulties, this is a "once in a lifetime" opportunity. The total cost of the visit, including transport, certificates, light refreshment and souvenir, is £3,500.
The event will be covered by media and radio, and will highlight the importance and value of integrating young people with differing disabilities within vocational catering training and educational institutions.
Sponsors will be invited to attend the event, will be mentioned in press releases, and will receive a letter of thanks signed by Lord Weatherill and the principal of Thurrock College.
Please support the students' special visit to the House of Commons. If you require additional information, please contact Paul Heywood. Please make donations payable to Thurrock College, and send to:
Catering and community studies,
Essex RM16 2YR.
what's brewing in mongolia?
WE shall shortly open an English teashop/bakery/bistro in Ulaanbaatar, called Churchill's. We want to achieve a good English image, with the menu items being "home-made" style.
We would be pleased to hear from any manufacturers who have suppliers/agents/distributors in China or south-east Asia who can supply products in catering sizes.
Central Post Office,
PO Box 1050,
risky recipes with fresh eggs
I AM always disappointed that the majority of recipes you publish for cold desserts contain fresh eggs.
The establishment at which I work has taken the view that the food-poisoning risk associated with using fresh eggs in uncooked and soft-set products is too great. I, therefore, have to use pasteurised eggs where appropriate. This results in my having to adapt a great many of the featured recipes, as I'm sure do many other readers.
Although the using of pasteurised eggs is not traditional, it is a factor in today's industry, providing safe food and peace of mind to the customer.
You can imagine my delight when the recipe in the Chef feature (Caterer, 12 February, page 36) included pasteurised egg. Congratulations, and please can we have some more of the same?
Trinity College, Oxford.