Meet our Education Membership Scheme partner: University College Birmingham

>>Meet our Education Membership Scheme partner: University College Birmingham

We are proud to work with colleges and universities across the world by offering membership via our Education Membership Scheme (EMS). As students have gone back to study over the last few weeks, we wanted to put some of the partners and students into the limelight.

To kick-start our spotlights, we caught up with Dr Olga Kampaxi, PGCHE, FHEA, Assoc CIPD who is a lecturer, year manager and tutor at the University College Birmingham. We wanted to learn more about how students are utilising the membership as well as get Olga’s thoughts on the hospitality industry right now.

From your perspective, what is the biggest challenge the industry is facing right now and how can you help to overcome this?

We put this question out to all the team including the UCB hospitality lecturers and colleagues who handle placements and career advice. They believe that staff retention, hospitality not being seen as a career, behaviours, sickness and the perceived work ethic of millennials were some of the biggest issues.

Other areas of concern included BREXIT and potential losses of EU personnel seeking enhanced earnings, rising food cost and issues with the food supply chain. Although some believe there is talent shortage, others believe that there is a skills shortage and not a people one.

We look to change perceptions about the industry by increasing career talks and providing more information about the career paths people have taken. Students should also have more industry exposure during visits.

Tell us about some of your success stories from University College Birmingham.  

We are really proud of our students and what they go on to achieve after studying with us. Here are just a few of our highlights.

  • Bakery degree student, Natalie Brown, graduated with a first-class honours degree and secured her dream job as a bakery technologist for Kudos Blends the day after she graduated.
  • College of Food graduate Megan was honoured as a Rising Star at the Baking Industry Awards.
  • A UCB graduate chef and former face of Tesco’s Indian Convenience Meal range, Nitisha Patel, is about to launch a vegan and vegetarian cookery book following the global success of her first book.
  • University College Birmingham’s triumphant Toque d’Or team had the chance to dine at the chef’s table at one of the world’s few three Michelin-starred restaurants during a prize trip to Spain. Luke Hayward, Yasmine Selwood and Faiha Ahmed clinched the 2019 Nestlé Professional Toque d’Or title following four days of competition at the grand finals in May.
  • Two top students at UCB hope to rise to the occasion after being named finalists in the British baking world’s search for the next one-to-watch in the industry.
  • Brad Carter, a University College Birmingham graduate and Michelin-starred chef, has had his restaurant named as one of the best in the UK – in not one, but two national lists.
  • Former student, Jacopo Mola became a front office manager at the tender age of 21.

An achievement I am proud of myself is when I organised a Nutritional Workshop to help students understand the connection between food, emotional well-being and brain health

Which elements of the membership have you and your students used the most?

For the academic team, the resources page and networking events would be top of our list. From the student’s point of view, they have had an amazing time at student events including Passion 4 Hospitality. They took part in the virtual hotel simulation event where UCB hospitality students beat off competition from around the world to scoop three trophies.

How does the EMS membership to the Institute of Hospitality help UCB?

The membership helps us and our students massively. It places us in the same arena with professional bodies and offers us exposure and industry links as well as networking opportunities. With the knowledge area, it helps us to maintain currency of the curriculum including professional development opportunities. The events help to raise our profile too.

As part of the Level 4 Employability Enhancement module taught across all three of UCB’s Hospitality Management programmes (IHBM/HTM & HEvM), membership of the IoH is actively promoted to all students. They are encouraged to become members in order to enhance their employment opportunities; to keep up to date with current trends within the hospitality industry and to network with industry representatives who may one day be their future employers.

Students are prompted to utilise the learning resources and opportunities available via the IoH to assist their studies. This will also provide them with an insight into the variety of careers within the sector. Students are regularly exposed to guest lecturers, who are employers in the industry as well as having the opportunity to visit restaurants and hotels in the local area to hear directly from employers what they want from potential employees.

What do you think is the ideal recipe to encourage learning?

Learning should be fun, relevant and engaging, with challenging targets. There should also be a blended approach where students can experience real life examples and apply theoretical models. A balanced approach between vocational application with transferrable academic skills to help students in their future careers is also key. However, students also need an approach that marries current generational profiling and trends with strong educational foundation.

It’s important to have a variety of assessment methods that recognise the varied spectrum of learning needs. UCB mirrors a real work environment whereby students reflect, learn and build maturity in a safe environment, with strong support mechanisms from the team.

Tell us the personality traits students should have to succeed in the hospitality and why they are so important.

  1. Employers want a positive can-do attitude and the ability to solve problems.
  2. In an everchanging and demanding arena perseverance, good manners and ambition are essential to succeed.
  3. Enthusiasm, resilience and the ability to build rapport.

All of the above are important because the industry is service oriented, competitive and requires adaptability. There is no shortage of hotel rooms or restaurants. But an exceptional experience can only be delivered by exceptional people.

Have you joined yet?

The Institute has partnerships with hospitality schools across the world through our Education Membership Scheme (EMS). If your place of study is on the scheme, they have sponsored membership for you, so you can register now for free!

If you are not eligible for this, don’t worry as we invite all other students to join for just £25 per year. You can view the list of current members here.