Recipes against the lack of young talent: one hotel, nine trainees

Status: 04.09.2021 09:04 a.m.

Companies across the country complain about a lack of applicants for apprenticeships. Nine apprentices started their training in a hotel in Würzburg – despite staff shortages in the catering industry. What does the company do differently?

By Frank Breitenstein, br

Hotels and restaurants all over Germany are desperately looking for staff. After the disastrous Corona year 2020, many former gastronomy workers looked for other fields of activity. But not everyone has these worries: Nine young women and men from the region begin their training at the Schlosshotel Steinburg in Würzburg.

The general lack of trainees can also be felt in the region. A good four percent fewer training contracts were signed at the beginning of September 1st than in the previous year, according to the Würzburg-Schweinfurt Chamber of Commerce and Industry. A trend across Germany: the pandemic is leaving a clear mark on the training market.

Lots of tasks for the newbies

Not so at the Steinburg: hotel management, kitchen, gastronomy – in the four-star hotel, the new trainees are familiarized with the full range of tasks. Here you will learn about serving, sophisticated cooking and correct room service.

Steinburg owner Lothar Bezold, in his own words, attaches great importance to respectful interaction, fair working conditions and the highest professional competence. It is the only hotel in the city that carries the nationwide seal of quality “top training company” from the DEHOGA hotel and restaurant association.

Much more than just henchman services

Alisia Xhemollari is one of the newcomers to the stone castle. She decided to train as a cook. Alisia used to help out at home in her mother’s restaurant – she likes the cooking. That is why she searched specifically for this discipline and came across a training concept on the Steinburg website that convinced her. She only applied here – and was accepted.

The young woman feels empowered by her first experiences in the hotel kitchen. At first she had feared that she would have nothing to do for weeks but cleaning the salad or taking on some henchman duties. “But I was quickly trusted to do something on my own,” she says.

Not all of them stay in the company

That is exactly what is essential, explains hotel manager Sabrina Czernoch. You have to trust the young people, hold them accountable. That’s where they learned the most. At the Schlosshotel Steinburg, training is very important. There are currently 20 trainees in the company over all three years of apprenticeship. Yet together they do not even make up a quarter of the workforce. Because a total of 90 women and men work in the 69-bed building.

With its high number of trainees, the company also covers its own personnel requirements. But by no means all of them will stay at the Steinburg. In the hotel industry it is common, and even desirable, says Czernoch, for hotel and catering professionals to first gain experience in different establishments before deciding on an employer.

When apprentices become “young knights”

The “Young Knights” project, which has been running in the hotel since 2018, perhaps most clearly shows the relationship of trust between teachers and students. The idea came from the trainees themselves – and the hotel management was happy to take it up: Once a month, the youngsters can take charge of their own fate for an evening.

The trainees give a Saturday evening a motto and create a suitable three-course menu including a selection of wines. Planning, cooking, serving – the young hotel professionals are responsible for hosting their guests on this evening. They can give their feedback afterwards on an evaluation sheet.

Regular guests are entertained by trainees

Everyone benefits from this: some learn, others experience an unusual gastronomic adventure that is also cheaper than a normal restaurant visit in the Steinburg. This is one of the reasons why the “Young Knights” evenings already have regular guests. The new trainees, who have now been gaining three years of experience, will soon be taking part in the project – with experienced employees holding the safety net ready in the background.

“We are overwhelmed by the great response to our training courses in the hotel industry and in the kitchen,” says owner Bezold. “Especially after the long period of closure, this is absolutely not a matter of course for us.” His company is proud to be able to train the skilled workers of tomorrow.

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