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Functional Skills training underlines the need for fresh business thinking

support this drive to ensure that young people are technically competent and can apply skills in English, maths and ICT to different scenarios.

To do this, small businesses can work with schools and colleges, letting them know what competencies they require in their business and showing the edu- cation community that they welcome the introduction of functional skills.

Dipna Anand, young entrepreneur and restaurant manager, looks at why Functional Skills qualifications are vital for small businesses and why it is important for employers to actively engage and support functional skills.

Hiring recruits with skills that enable them to hit the ground running has always been important for small busi- nesses. We don’t have the training budgets of larger firms and we need staff that will add value from day one and enable us to grow. That is why I welcome the introduction of functional skills.

Functional skills will be introduced to all education routes from this September. They aim to ensure that young people are able to apply English, maths and ICT to real situations – not just in the classroom. Although all young people will be taught functional skills, those taking an Apprenticeship, Diploma or one of the new Functional Skills quali- fications will be tested in this area, giving a guarantee to employers that they have achieved the level required for workplace success.

As the manager of an Indian restaurant I employ a lot of young people and it is vital that new recruits come to me with the essential knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them

Spice Business Magazine

to operate confidently, effectively and independently in the workplace.

I believe that functional skills are vital for all small businesses. I know that in a service-based industry like mine they can help to make a business more profitable; for example, by ensuring that staff have the communications skills to provide excellent customer service. As a result I am planning to incorporate the Functional Skills qual- ification into the restaurant to help equip our employees with the practi- cal skills and knowledge needed when pursuing a career in the catering and food industry.

Despite the economic downturn there is an ever-increasing demand for quality restaurant food. It’s a growth sector yet we have problems attract- ing recruits with the right skills. It’s crucial for young people to have the knowledge and skills that employers look for so that they can prosper when entering the world of work.

Our future is highly dependent on the skills of our staff and their ability to innovate. Changing consumer demand, rapid changes in technology and new product and menu developments mean that to remain competitive we have to be continually improving. This is why it is important for us as employers to


I love food and love the food industry which is why I carry out cookery dem- onstrations in schools and colleges and do whatever I can to promote food as a subject. If more employers can get involved with their local schools and colleges in this way, so that busi- ness and education work together, we can ensure that young people leave education well-equipped for the world of work.

I get real satisfaction from the courses I carry out and helping to draw out the passion and spark in people who want to get ahead in the industry.

We need to empower more chefs and professionals to develop the food industry and urge youngsters who are thinking of pursuing a career in food and catering to go for it. I believe that functional skills, and the involvement of the industry in delivering them, will be a major step towards meeting this goal.

For information about functional skills and reforms to education see HYPERLINK “http://www.dcsf.” www.dcsf. or visit HYPERLINK “http://www.employers- to find out more about getting involved in education.

Dipna Anand is a chief lecturer in food at Thames Valley University and Hammersmith College and manager of Brilliant restaurant in Southall, west London

March 2011

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