'Publicans are looking forward to it': VFI hoping to run degree scheme in Cork

The three-year degree course is backed by State and employer funding and is available in Cork.
'Publicans are looking forward to it': VFI hoping to run degree scheme in Cork

Cork city VFI Chairperson Michael O’Donovan said the first course started on April 27 in Limerick, but there will be a second intake in September and with the numbers looking very optimistic he would be hoping that Griffith College will run a course from Cork in September. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THE new apprenticeship degree to train a new generation of bar managers is hoping to run a Cork-based course from September, with large numbers signing up for the scheme.

The three-year degree course is backed by State and employer funding and is available in Cork.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Griffith College, with the support of Solas, the state agency for further education, have joined forces to reverse the pub sector’s post-Covid struggle to retain staff.

Cork city VFI Chairperson Michael O’Donovan said the first course started on April 27 in Limerick, but there will be a second intake in September and with the numbers looking very optimistic he would be hoping that Griffith College will run a course from Cork in September.

“They have over 70 applicants already, the course only went live three weeks ago, and there are 27 on the first course, at full capacity,” Mr O’Donovan said.

Outlining the benefits for staff, Michael said: “For anyone working in a bar, it's giving them a career certainty. They will have a degree that they can travel anywhere with. It’s a level 7 qualification that they can do anything with.”

For publicans, Mr O’Donovan said the course was a gamechanger.

“We will know managers are trained to a very high level. The syllabus covers licensing laws, bar operations, communication skills, food and beverage, product development, bar operations, and accounting fundamentals. It will give them a rounded operation.”

Mr O’Donovan said publicans have needed this course for many years.

“Publicans are saying it is the structure we have needed for years. They are looking forward to it, it can only help our industry.”

A Fáilte Ireland survey released in February indicated that as many as nine out of ten hospitality businesses have problems recruiting staff, with many employers linking the shortage to a lack of training.

VFI Chief Executive, Paul Clancy, says the apprenticeship will be critical to addressing the issue.

“At a time when staff recruitment is cited as the number one issue for the hospitality business, this degree will play a vital role in retaining key personnel,” he said.

The Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is a work-based learning programme in which apprentices will be able to work, earn and learn to become fully-qualified bar managers.

Students already working in the bar trade are sponsored by their employer to develop the broad range of skills necessary to operate at the highest level in the industry, spending one day a week in lectures over three years.

Griffith College President, Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, said the qualification would assist in the bar trade in the post-pandemic environment.

“We have worked closely with the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland to develop a practical and applied qualification which will enhance the skills and competencies of staff as the pub industry re-ignites after the challenges of Covid,” he said.

Employers are eligible for a grant, per registered apprentice, and applications are now open for the September intake. Employers can register interest at: https://content.griffith.ie/bar-management-expression-of-interest-employer

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