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National Gaming Academy
It’s gone from a regional triumph to a national success; Colleen
McLaughlin, National Gaming Academy Manager, talks to Casino
International about the enormous success of the project
ome time ago, Casino International visited course, is fantastic. If we train people up and they go
Blackpool and the Fylde College, a place straight on to the ships, eventually the majority of them will
of learning well-known for its tourism come back, and they will bring new skills back in to the
courses, to see their Gaming Academy industry. They may be looking then to become inspectors,
facility. Casino International left very or to go for even higher level jobs, but they have still got
impressed, and we recenly caught up with Colleen that basic training.
McLaughlin to find out how the course has grown and
improved since those promising early days.
Casino International: The National Gaming
Academy [NGA] has had some pretty serious
recognition, hasn't it? That's presumably helped
Colleen McLaughlin
you grow and kind of… franchise out.
Colleen McLaughlin: It has. We got a Beacon Award for
Excellence, a Centre of Vocational Excellence – COVE. We
have been approached by quite a few different colleges and
have gone into partnership with two colleges, strategically-
placed throughout the country to help us support the
gaming industry on a national basis. For example, Genting
has bases all across the country and they wouldn’t have to
travel hundreds of miles if they wanted to come to us, and Probably 95 per cent of the people who leave us, go on
vice-versa. The three colleges work together. It’s not a to work in the industry. We are getting them all jobs – even
franchise, more of a partnership and we create in a recession. For example, recently I went to a local
standardized teaching materials so that the same course is casino to discuss job opportunities that are not in our area.
replicated throughout the country. We have been contacted by casino managers in the North
and in Scotland who want trainee dealers, they know about
CI: Where are your colleges? the Gaming Academy and they have gone to Diane in
CM: There is a Gaming Academy at Blackpool. We have Blackpool because she does take a large percentage of our
the one at North Warwickshire and Hinkley College which trainees. We are going to look at offering packages for our
opened over 12 months ago, and just about to open is the students to relocate up to the areas. General Managers are
London Gaming College at Charlton Athletic Football prepared to do that. You know how they have done with the
Club. They are looking to officially launch in June this year, Eastern Europeans…the same sort of model. They are
although they are teaching courses right now to work already offering that to our students, which shows that they
through the initial teething problems. They have two are recognizing that the college training is valuable.
croupier courses on the go at the moment, and they are It means we are given more and more tools to get people
working on the completion of their slot and CCTV area. It into the industry, through a route where General Managers
is a fantastic facility. know that our trainees do know about customer service and
are fully aware of the bits of legislation that they need to
CI: What can employers expect of your be aware of. I appreciate that people who come to us, who
graduates? are new to the industry, can only ever learn a certain
CM: The new NVQs offer a benchmark, a minimum amount at our training school, and that a majority of it
standard for people within the industry and for those going they will learn once they get out into the job, but the
in to the industry. A prospective employer knows exactly National Gaming Academy is the vehicle that helps them
what they will be capable of with that. get there.
People who train with us can work anywhere in the
world. We have a fantastic relationship with Carnival CI: If you're working with an operator, and
Cruise Lines, which offers our students the possibility of training staff that are already in their operations,
completing an 18-week course and then going directly on to how does that happen? Presumably you need to
the ships as a trainee dealer. That is unheard of. That, for be extremely flexible because of the hours your
us, as a motivational tool to get people to come on the students would be working.
34 MAY 2009
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