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The University of Nottingham catering team

Driving university catering forward

Matt White, Chair of The University Caterers Organisation points out the vital importance of training for campus catering teams

Posted by Rob Bertels | October 02, 2017 | Catering & hospitality

The higher education catering sector is often described as one of catering’s best kept secrets. This is not only because of the fantastic opportunities for progression and flexible working it offers but the many talented and passionate people who work in it. The challenge for operators is to recruit and retain these highly-skilled team members who are vital to ensuring students choose to dine on campus rather than on the high street. 

By offering training schemes, university caterers can continue to attract new employees, as well as nurture existing workers. Peer-to-peer sharing, online training and in-person courses, can all make a huge difference to the success and day-to-day running of campus catering, as staff feel more valued and invested in the business – helping to improve efficiency and keep the on-campus offer competitive. In fact, research shows that 41% of employees are more likely to leave a position within a year if they do not receive any training – highlighting the importance of providing development opportunities at work[1].

To support our members in upskilling their teams, we launched the TUCO Academy two years ago. Through the Academy, we offer innovative and tailored training programmes. These range from courses on Building Successful Teams and Report Writing, to Hospitality Manager and Chef de Partie apprenticeships. In addition, we run a wealth of study tours to provide chefs with menu inspiration and enable them to experience and learn about world cuisines first hand. This year’s tours include everything from trips to India and Vietnam, to courses on Gastrophysics and Molecular Cooking.

Investing in effective staff training that extends the knowledge and creativity of those currently working in the sector is key to building a stronger, bigger and brighter workforce of the future. Not only does it help to maintain the reputation of university catering outlets, it ultimately ensures they stand out against the competition of national outlets.

If you’d like to find out more information on the TUCO Academy, the courses available and study tours, please visit or contact

Matt White is Chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) and Director of Catering, Hotel and Conference Services at The University of Reading.

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