How People 1st accreditation has helped Milton Keynes College

Milton Keynes College joined People 1st’s network of accredited colleges in early 2015. Gold-accredited for hospitality, it has also been awarded a highly commended AA Rosette for its college restaurant, The Brasserie.

Tony Oxley, programme manager for the catering and hospitality department at the college, explains why getting accredited has been a smart move for his team.

Why did you decide to become accredited?

We wanted to put our name out there, locally and nationally, as a really good training provider. We felt that the team at Milton Keynes go above and beyond what colleges normally do for their students, and work with employers as well. The accreditation has really given us a good status symbol in the local area.

What have been the biggest benefits you have experienced since becoming accredited?

It’s been fantastic for us to go out to employers and say: “look, we are a good training provider, what we deliver is good”. It’s great to shout about it and say “come on board, bring the students in straight from school, bring employers in for apprentices, because the training that they will get at Milton Keynes College is absolutely fantastic”.

It’s also raised the profile of our college restaurant, The Brasserie, which was initially awarded an AA Rosette and is now highly commended. Again that’s been brilliant, not only for the press it’s generated for the business but also for the students. It’s great for them to say that they work for a highly-commended, AA-awarded restaurant and it looks excellent on their CVs for future employment.

Has getting accredited set you apart from the competition and created partnerships with businesses?

Our accreditation has definitely helped create better links with employers and it’s been fantastic to put our students into meaningful work experience with restaurants and hotels, both locally and nationally. We’ve worked with businesses like The Dorchester, the Mandarin Oriental and Le Manoir, and it’s been recognised how well we work with other people and employers.

It’s also allowed us to have links with various chefs within the industry. We’ve worked with Michelin-starred chefs and it’s been really good for us. With the accreditation, they recognise that we are a good training provider.

It’s helped us build our commercial provision as well. Not only do we provide food and drink for external customers through our restaurant, but it’s allowed us to build our business locally. Now we provide catering for various events, charity events, weddings, all those kind of things.

What does your accreditation mean to employers and learners?

The accreditation tells schools, colleges and school-leavers that we are a good provider, and that the kids who join us on our programmes are going be taught extremely well, with high standards.

It’s what employers want as well – having that partnership with industry, because the kids that join us are really the future of hospitality and catering. They need that quality of training, and so do employers.

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