Having worked behind many a pub bar in my time, or ‘front of house’ as the title goes these days instead of barman, as much as the social aspect of the job was second to none (and the free beer came in very handy on darts night, too) it has always been one of those jobs that learning to pull a pint was about as far as any tuition got. And the pay was nothing to write home about, either, when you consider the unsociable hours front of house staff – and kitchen staff, nowadays – put in. If that doesn’t contradict the opening line.
This is obviously an area Greene King have recognised by launching their own eight module e-learning course, available for their staff, licensed managers and tenants. Although these courses are not free (show me a cookery course that is, with everyone wanting to learn to cook at home, these days) they are very reasonably priced at £15 a pop.
Are Greene King missing a trick?
Speaking about the e-learning courses launch, which covers everything from food safety level 2 to bar management, Simon Longbottom, MD for Greene King Pub Partners, although recognising the fact that all levels of staff working within their corporation will benefit from the online wet and dry sale tutelage, which encompasses drink, management, customer service and kitchen courses taught to nationally recognised qualification levels, it would seem that the medium of online training has been aimed at developing 17-30 year olds, who have grown up interactively learning in this manner.
What I can’t help feel, and have commented as such on the eatoutmagazine guide from whence the original article came to notice, is that Greene King has an opportunity to open up its doors to the hospitality sector as a whole; as the only entry to their food and drink courses are through their private portal, PubPartners.net, they are not availing themselves of the latent talent that exists within the pub and hotel retail sector generally.
One of the problems pubs have traditionally had, as well as the pressure of actually keeping their businesses afloat with the ridiculous taxation levels on wet-sale product, is staff retention.
I recall (just about) when I first officially worked behind a bar back in the summer of ’88, even your tax code changed so that you were paying duty on your tips, whether you were allowed to keep them or not. That’s just one example of why staff see bar work as a part-time gig, but there are many, many others.
Food and drink courses could be so much more
Greene King have the chance to attract staff who genuinely want to progress in the hospitality industry, not just earn a few extra quid a week for a bit of pocket money, as the majority of barstaff front of house staff do. In order to do that, it should consider opening up its doors to willing third parties, even if it does charge a little extra for this additional service.
Not only will the food and drink courses be a development tool for its own staff but also provide a catchment net for the whole industry to serve as a vehicle to really put them ahead of the rest of the field. As an employer, they could not only reward staff as they go through the list of e-courses but also give staff an incentive to remain under their employ, making Greene King’s outgoings work doubly hard. This will also attract the cream of the crop from other industry sectors, turning this project into a true masterclass, rather than modules that staff might opt to take if they can be bothered or afford it.
That’s it – glad I got that off my chest. Thank you for listening.
p.s. – if Greene King do adopt this and want to thank me for pointing out, they can send me my commission cheque via the web-master here at cookerycourses.co.uk, thank you.