Business Cornwall learns more about hospitality sector training specialist, NfET

You may be forgiven for not recognising the initials NfET unless, of course, you are a
business operating in the hospitality or tourism sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Starting life as Newquay for Excellence Training in 1996, NfET was established by two
local hoteliers, Ruth Atkinson and Gill Moore, who, with their families, left busy lives and jobs in the Midlands, to buy their dream business in Newquay. Almost 23 years on, it may well be the longest-standing independent training providers in the county.

NfET’s decision to focus solely on the hospitality sector was not a difficult one.
“We were right in the middle of Newquay, running a hotel,” says Ruth. “Admittedly we had
little experience in the trade at that time, but we had vast experience in training and business support, having spent almost 40 years between us, working in government departments responsible for youth and adult training.”

Recruitment in 1996 was as challenging as it is now. And accessing training for its hotel team was even more frustrating. No local facility, difficult transport links and shift working patterns made travel to local colleges in St Austell or Camborne impossible. Truro College, at that time, was only a sixth form centre.

Since those early days, NfET’s reach has spread across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, but the county border it still its dividing line.

“We are a Cornish business and our allegiance is here,” says Gill. “We think our longevity, is in part, due to these very specific reasons.

“We recognise every business is different, serving a variety of clientele, but the audience
is increasingly demanding. They expect superior service, excellent quality and accommodation in tune with the stunning environment offered by this very special location.

“We have worked extensively with EU funding to support skills and business development
and were responsible for the very successful HONEY programmes, which offered hotels
capital grants, business mentors, and specialist support, with everything from marketing to interior design, at a time when quality rather than quantity was becoming paramount.

“We carefully select our training and business support team, who are dedicated professionals with extensive knowledge and experience in the sector. We all understand
the importance of having a flexible approach to meet the expectations of the businesses we support and we have a reputation for delivering innovative solutions that make a real
measurable difference.

“We firmly believe that all this has contributed to our continued success, borne out by
fact that many of our clients have remained with us throughout the years and are well
recognised as the county’s premier hospitality and tourism businesses.”

Dave Allen, group quality manager at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group, says: “We have
found the ideal training partner in NfET to deliver programmes that are aligned with our
own strategic objectives. The feedback from staff has been fantastic.”

Regardless of your feelings towards the continued uncertainty over Brexit, Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly has seen considerable investment in skills by the European Union.

One of NfET’s most important functions is to make sure that it makes the process of accessing the funding, uncomplicated and stress free for both individuals and businesses.
This is the role of business co-ordinator, Claire Evans, who, along with training manager, Lisa Veale, ensures the company has an eye on the detail at every stage.

Opportunities afforded by EU funding are time limited, so its latest programme, Together for Tourism Futures, affectionately known as TF2, is really the culmination of 23 years and is NfET’s legacy to the businesses it has worked with for so long. In the future, there will be less funded training and businesses need to build their own training capacity, rethinking the way they recruit, retain and develop their people.

TF2 has over half a million pounds of EU funding and will operate well into 2020. It is very much along the lines of the successful HONEY programme, but rather than focussing on ‘physical’ buildings, bedrooms, web sites and equipment, this is firmly about the people.
It has the capacity to support 60 businesses during its lifetime, with the potential to help
them be the best of the best in terms of their people strategies.

A number of well-respected businesses are already taking advantage of the TF2 programme. Martin Barlow, MD of the Budock Vean Hotel, says: “I would urge anyone to
speak to NfET regarding the TF programme and definitely join. What we have already
gained from the programme far outweighs the initial fee and we still have 12 months to go.”

For a small investment of £750, businesses can unlock access to this fund, gaining the
support of a dedicated skills mentor to guide them through the process and have skills
specialists available to them, delivering a whole range of professional development ‘segments’ to key staff members.

Letitia Pickles, director of the Bowgie Inn, Crantock, recently achieved a trainer qualification and says: “The course was full of really great people, with lots of interesting
ideas. With the help of my amazing mentor, I have already started to implement personal
growth meetings with every member of staff and have much more in the pipeline.”

Abi Bradley, deputy general manager, Cornish Resorts – Trenython Manor, adds: “So far,
the TF programme has already offered us a new perspective and has allowed us to work
towards building a more positive environment for our people.”

• Over 200 businesses benefitting from a share of £3.6 million in capital grants to improve the physical quality of their businesses.

• Over £600k wage subsidies, shared between tourism businesses to combat seasonal
employment, with vocational training over the winter periods for all those involved.

• 8,000 plus front line staff, supervisors and managers taking part in training to develop
their own skills and expand their horizons in terms of personal career choices.

For details and an opportunity to be one of the ‘Super 60’ contact NfET on 01637 871067 or email hello@nfet.co.uk