Northern Irish restaurateur Niall McKenna (pictured) believes there is a very real issue surrounding how proposed hotel and restaurant developments in Belfast will be equipped to deal with increasing tourist numbers in the city, specifically when it comes to how these venues will be staffed.
According to an article McKenna composed for The Belfast Telegraph, he is attempting to tackle this issue directly with the launch of the fourth year of an apprenticeship programme run by his James Street South restaurant group in conjunction with Belfast Met.
The aim of the programme is to train new generations of chefs not just for McKenna's own business, but for the entire culinary sector in the face of what McKenna says is a very real skills shortage. Programme participants gain practical experience in every aspect of the job, learning about food preparation from an assortment of accomplished professionals and are paid a wage through college.
This year's programme sees the addition of a Front of House training scheme for the purpose of further enhancing customer service at venues owned by the James Street South group and while McKenna noted that his company is one of only a handful of hospitality specific companies pushing such an endeavour forward for the benefit of business, he believes that other employers should consider collaborating with colleges to create similar programmes for the benefit of tourism in Northern Ireland and restaurant excellence in general.