Grow with Heligan scheme a winner at Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards 2022

  • 18th Nov 2022

The seventh annual Cornwall Apprenticeship Awards saw the iconic attraction win in two separate categories, with Heligan Chef Aaron Robbins taking home Apprentice of the Year in the Hospitality Category, and the organisation also winning SME Employer of the Year.

Heligan had two of the three nominations in the Apprentice of the Year category, with Hospitality Supervisor Holly Welch also shortlisted.

The judges commended Robbins’s strong application, noting his great motivation on his journey to becoming a chef through the apprenticeship route, receiving nominations due to his work ethic, customer service and commitment.

The awards reflect a deliberate focus of the business on nurturing home-grown talent to develop its service offering and boost profitability. Over 10% of Heligan’s 100-strong permanent staff are currently training on an apprenticeship scheme, aptly names “Grow with Heligan”, which been highly impactful for the business as a whole. This year’s programme alone has added three new qualified chefs in a time when chefs are very scarce in Cornwall, as well as three qualified hospitality supervisors who have all taken responsibility for their own hospitality outlets around the beautiful gardens.

“Heligan is dedicated to the development of its team, and it is wonderful to see this recognised” says Ramon van de Velde, MD of The Lost Gardens of Heligan. “We are immensely proud that we have been able to give existing staff the opportunity to do this. Recruitment has also been a lot easier due to the apprenticeship scheme – we “grew” our own chefs.”

“Commitment to the apprenticeship scheme means that 7 members of staff who were previously in temporary-contract roles are now in full time permanent” he continues. “They all had been at Heligan for some years, and their loyalty is rewarded. It also had a positive impact on their colleagues, and our team is proud to be working in an organisation that takes learning and development so seriously. The quality of the shortlist was very high this year, which makes our SME Employer of the Year win so rewarding.”

The win is a career-first for Robbins who commented “I’m so proud to have won the award. Hospitality is such an important area for both locals and tourists in Cornwall, and I’m excited to see where my career will take me. This is just the beginning.”

Judges describing the organisation as ‘a shining beacon of good practice in the apprenticeship arena that is setting a fantastic example for the hospitality sector and employers across Cornwall, with a real commitment to learning and development making it well placed to retain and attract new talent’.

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