The first ever apprenticeship degree to train a new generation of bar managers launched recently to tackle Ireland’s crippling shortage of hospitality staff. The three-year degree course is backed by State and employer funding and is available in Dublin. The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Griffith College, with the support of Solas, the state agency for further education, have joined forces to reverse the pub sector’s post-Covid struggle to retain staff. A Fáilte Ireland survey released in February indicated that as many as nine out of ten hospitality businesses have problems recruiting staff, with many employers linking the shortage to a lack of training.
VFI Chief Executive, Paul Clancy, says the Apprenticeship, available nationally through Griffith College in Dublin, Cork and Limerick, will be critical to addressing the issue. “At a time when staff recruitment is cited as the number one issue for the hospitality business, this degree will play a vital role in retaining key personnel,” he said. The Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is a work-based learning programme in which apprentices will be able to work, earn and learn to become fully-qualified bar managers.
Students already working in the bar trade are sponsored by their employer to develop the broad range of skills necessary to operate at the highest level in the industry, spending one day a week in lectures over three years. School leavers with experience in the bar trade and career changers are also eligible.
Limerick City-based first-year Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Bar Manager Apprentice Emma Hanley (23), said she was attracted by being able to work and learn at the same time. “I have always enjoyed working in a bar and the Apprenticeship has given me a real insight into my chosen career,” said Kilfinane native Emma, who is apprenticed to The Old Quarter Pub in the city. “The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland’s Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is very well structured, allowing me learn in-depth about the trade, whilst putting the practical elements to use and earning at the same time. It is a great way to learn and you gain great insight.”
JJ Mulcahy, owner of The Old Quarter, which has three apprentices, including Emma, and hosted the launch of the programme by Minister of State for Further and Higher Education, Niall Collins said the Apprenticeship is a wonderful way to retain and develop staff. “The work and study elements of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree gives a great advantage in terms of career options,” he said. “Experience is critical in this trade, but so is knowledge of the ever-changing legal and regulatory framework. “The concept is wonderful. This is an industry which can give you a good career, but you have to put the time and effort into learning it.”
According to Mary Liz Trant, Interim Director of the National Apprenticeship Office, the programme is exceptional and innovative. “Change is accelerating in the apprenticeship system, with the National Apprenticeship Office driving transformation across 65 diverse and innovative apprenticeship programmes. “This Apprenticeship is a key example of an in-demand skills-based course that forms part of this transformational agenda. “The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and Griffith College have developed an exceptional programme that offers important pathways to employment at the highest level in the industry, with 21st-century skills to compete in the sector.”
Griffith College President, Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, said the qualification would assist in the bar trade in the post-pandemic environment. “We have worked closely with the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland to develop a practical and applied qualification which will enhance the skills and competencies of staff as the pub industry re-ignites after the challenges of Covid,” he said.
Employers are eligible for a grant, per registered apprentice, and applications are now open for the September intake. Employers can register interest at: https://content.griffith.ie/bar-management-expression-of-interest-employer