NOW is the time to rally behind the hospitality sector and train the next generation of workers to meet unprecedented demand for skills (@colegcambria).

Esteemed chef Bryn Williams (@Brynwchef) made the plea in welcoming new recruits to the Academy he launched in partnership with Coleg Cambria.

Bryn shot to fame when he took on and beat the best chefs in the country to cook the fish course for the Queen’s 80th birthday celebrations on the hit BBC programme, Great British Menu.

He has gone on to write books and appear regularly on television, having been trained by some of the sector’s leading lights, including Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux.

The Bryn Williams Academy blends work experience at his award-winning restaurants - Porth Eirias in Colwyn Bay and Odette’s in Primrose Hill, London – with a Level 3 in Catering and Hospitality from Cambria.

Speaking from the college’s £21m Hafod building in Wrexham – which features the newly-unveiled Ial Restaurant - Bryn said the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic and a subsequent surge in vacancies should be met with confidence in what is an “incredible industry” with many opportunities for progression and success.

“To have the Academy back up and running again after a difficult time for everyone is fantastic,” said Bryn, from Denbigh.

“If we ever needed a partnership like this in hospitality and catering then it’s right now as so many people have left the trade for a variety of reasons; despite that, it is an incredible industry with so many career options and the chance to travel the world and experience amazing things.

“It all boils down to skills and that’s our main focus, from the kitchen to front-of-house - once they have those skills and the right attitude the world is their oyster.”

He added: “The hospitality arena is huge, from pubs, cafes and hotels to marketing, PR, event management and more, and it’s changing for the better.

“But what doesn’t change is the value of skills, and that’s what the Academy is all about; we need to bring through the next generation to take on this sector make sure it’s in safe hands, especially now, after everything it’s been through.”

The latest cohort joining the Academy are Oscar, Liam and Dougie, who will now complete a Level 3 alongside their restaurant placements having progressed from the Level 2 in Catering and Hospitality.

Andy Woods, Cambria’s Curriculum Director for the Visitor Economy, said interest in the Academy has grown since it was launched three years ago, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are so pleased to be able to take on new students and are confident the industry will turn things around,” he said.

“There is a recruitment drive across hospitality and for these three students, having the Academy on their CVs when they complete their studies is a big USP, it will give them a boost.

“The industry is changing and developing, salaries and working conditions are improving all the time so it’s the perfect time to join and will attract more people – we will play a big part in that and are excited to get going again.”

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