The first apprenticeship program for bar managers is being launched in Limerick, with the aim of addressing the shortage of hospitality staff in Ireland.
The three-year course is the result of a collaboration between the Federation of Winemakers of Ireland (VFI) and Griffith College, and is supported by the Irish state agency for higher education, Solas.
The course will be available through Griffith College in Cork, Dublin and Limerick, and will be presented by the Minister of State for Further and Higher Education, Niall Collins, on Monday at The Old Quarter pub in Limerick City.
A Failte Ireland survey in February found that as many as nine in 10 hospitality businesses were having trouble recruiting staff, with many employers linking the shortage to a lack of training.
VFI CEO Paul Clancy said learning would be critical to alleviating the problem.
“At a time when staffing is cited as the number one issue for the hospitality business, this title will play a vital role in retaining key staff,” he said.
As part of the bar manager trainee qualification, students already working in the trade can be sponsored by their employer to develop the wide range of skills needed to operate at the highest level in the industry, spending one day a week at conferences for three years.
School graduates with bar trade experience and career changers are also eligible.
One of the first people to sign up, Emma Hanley, 23, an apprentice at The Old Quarter pub in Limerick city, said she was drawn to the offer of being able to work and learn at the same time.
“I have always loved working in a bar and the apprenticeship has given me a real insight into the career I have chosen,” he said.
“The title is very well structured, which allows me to learn in depth about the craft, while putting into practice the practical elements and earning at the same time. It’s a great way to learn and you get a great perspective.”
JJ Mulcahy, owner of The Old Quarter, which has three apprentices, said the course gave “a huge advantage” in retaining and developing staff.
“The concept is wonderful. This is an industry that can give you a good career, but you have to put in the time and effort to learn it,” she said.
Mary Liz Trant, interim director of the National Office of Apprenticeship, described the program as exceptional and innovative.
“This apprenticeship is a key example of an in-demand skills-based course that is part of this transformation agenda,” he said.
Staffing shortages in hospitality ‘will only get worse’…
Griffith College President Professor Diarmuid Hegarty said the rating would help the bar trade after the pandemic.
“We have worked closely with the Irish Winemakers Federation to develop a practical, applied qualification that will enhance the skills and competencies of staff as the pub industry reactivates after the challenges of Covid,” he said.
Employers are eligible for a registered apprentice grant, and applications are now open for September intake on the Griffith College website.