Having spent ten years establishing a reputation for providing some of the best contemporary Asian Cuisine in the West Midlands, Alok Restaurant had its sight set on expansion.
The restaurant and takeaway was first launched in 2006 (TBC), and the business has continued to evolve ever since. However, as a family-run business, manager Abdul Kahar’s time and energy was on overseeing day-to-day operations, rather than growth and developing plans to open another outlet.
Having attracted a reputation for quality food and good value, such popularity meant that Abdul couldn’t afford to step back from the daily tasks of running a restaurant, needing to oversee operations and ensure Alok’s reputation for delivering quality cuisine and service remained forefront with staff and customers.
Abdul explained: “Reputation and quality is so important in the food industry and I needed to be there to oversee staff and make sure everything from food hygiene to cleanliness was being delivered to the right standard.
“While our standards and understanding are extremely good, I believe you can always improve food hygiene awareness amongst staff and I knew we could be more efficient with our cleaning.
“I had plans to open another branch in the Midlands area and if staff were trained to be able to work at an unsupervised level then I could concentrate on our growth plans.”
The issues faced by Alok Restaurants are common to countless small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are often deterred from investing in training due to the costs involved or difficulties finding enough time. A particular barrier is providing training that can fit around an employee’s shift patterns or evening work.
The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) project offers fully-funded training courses to help SMEs overcome these barriers. Co-financed through the European Union’s European Social Fund and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the project is open to businesses seeking non-compulsory, work-based training to support their business growth plan.
As well as helping SMEs to plug any skills gaps they may have, training can boost the productivity of a business and fuel its future growth.
Abul was appointed a dedicated skills advisor, Zubair Hussain from Gateway Training Solutions and together they undertook a skills assessment for the business and looked at long term targets and needs for the restaurant.
From there they identified a plan based around the training available and identified how staff could take advantage of it, based around work schedules.
Fully Funded Training
Through the Skills Support for the Workforce project, Abdul has been able to focus on identifying and plugging the skills gaps among his employees. By doing so, he has not only given his staff greater confidence in their own abilities, but also boosted the productivity of the entire team because staff now have the skills they need to carry out certain tasks independently and take on more responsibility.
Abdul explained:“We were delighted when we found out about the funding for the training. It gave me the push I needed to identify the gaps in staff skills and do something about it to help us all to progress further!
“Even the staff who didn’t undertake the training have benefitted as they are learning from those that did, so it’s had a positive impact on our whole team.
“It has really shown us that the training has made, and continues to make, a difference.”
Working with an advisor from the project, Alok Restaurant was able to develop and implement a training plan. Care was taken to ensure that, as well as being hugely beneficial to the small but busy team, the plan was manageable and didn’t have an adverse impact on their ability to meet the day-to-day operations of the business.
Abdul added: “It has helped my team hugely, building their confidence and also increasing their own job prospects as well as making them more engaged in their job.
“I would highly recommend to all businesses to do this training and develop skills and knowledge for staff.”
Ebrahim Dockrat, External Funding Director of Calderdale College, the main contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, highlighted the benefits of the project: “We offer a range of flexible, bespoke training plans designed to help your business grow. By training your staff, you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment, nurture a leadership team for the future and make you an employer of choice for emerging talent.
“As this training is funded with European money, this is the last project of its kind. This funding is only available until July 2018, so it’s a case of get it whilst you still can.”
For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project and to see if your business is eligible for fully-funded training, please click here
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