Are you heeding your own advice?

Phil Rees-Jones, director of campus facilities at Cardiff University and chair of The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO)

If you’re reading this column, the chances are you work for an educational establishment and therefore fully appreciate how impactful knowledge and learning can be. I’ll also hazard a guess that, despite this, finding the opportunity to upskill and learn for yourself can be difficult.
At TUCO we’ve made it easier than ever before to help our members broaden their knowledge and skills and even learn how to be flexible and adapt to the ongoing challenges posed by Covid. In fact, together with our other member benefits, it’s this superior support in the latter that has seen us grow in membership quite considerably.

Over the years, the TUCO Academy has been helping members with professional development and, although in-person training is on hold, we are still committed and able to deliver positive learning experiences virtually. Moreover, sessions are recorded, so you can catch up at a time that is convenient for you.

We previously ran a study with London South Bank University to find out what our members wanted from our training, and accessibility to learning came out top in the research. This is why we’re delighted to have been able to transition many of our offline courses into online ones, perfectly complementing our already extensive range of courses available via our partnership with Upskill People.

Sessions have included learning about food allergens, management and emerging trends in hospitality, and span development needs from entry level to senior manager and director level. Other workshops included visual merchandising and learning new recipes to cater for vegan or vegetarian diners.

We additionally recognise that our members are having to wear a number of different hats lately, so as well as webinars on practical skills in the kitchen, we also offer courses aimed at business development and marketing such as social media and leadership skills. Alternatively, if you are looking for support with compliance in food safety, we can deliver a webinar for your team and provide a certificate of attendance or even arrange for an exam with an invigilator from your own institution.

We know that times are difficult, but continuing to build your knowledge and empowering your teams through learning can build resilience and expertise to last a lifetime. Given we’re in the business of education, we’re better placed than most to truly understand how transformative it can be – but it’s about time we heeded our own advice.

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