Grooming a New Generation
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Ceylon Today Features
Sri Lanka is a country known for its hospitable people and that has easily transferred well into our local hospitality sector. Today, many Sri Lankans are part of the global hospitality industry, and are leading personalities, winning multiple awards and engaging in high-level careers, even hosting members of the world’s upper echelon.
In a country that has earned such high regard internationally in the hospitality industry, it is essential that a new generation is groomed to carry on the honour we have gained. For this, major organisations in the hospitality industry call for apprentices to join their ranks. The young recruits start from humble beginnings, working their way to the top and reaching exceptional heights.
While such programmes have existed in the past, Waters Edge has introduced an innovative, structured apprenticeship programme for new recruits, aimed at grooming the next generation of greats in the hospitality sector.
Under this new apprenticeship programme, an apprentice trainee could either work in the kitchen or the food and beverage department for two years, rotating through the many venues owned by the group and gaining experience in every aspect of the trade possible.
A special gathering was held for the new apprentices on 1 April 2021 at Waters Edge, to introduce the new programme.
Attending the gathering were some of the biggest names in the hospitality industry such as, Chefs Sunanda Kumar, Nisanka Alawatta, Samila Kumarasinghe, Shenal Perera and many others, with some of them even addressing the new apprentices.
“Apprenticeship is a blessing,” said Chef Chamila Wickramasinghe, who addressed the gathering. “You get the opportunity to experience the tutelage of many leaders in the industry and learn from their experience.”
Retelling his story, as he climbed his way to become a leading Chef in Sri Lanka’s culinary world, Chef Wickramasinghe shared words of inspiration to the audience, encouraging them to work hard and use the programme as a stepping stone to reach greater heights in their future careers.
Similar sentiments were shared by other guest chefs of the gathering, who also encouraged the new apprentices to stay with the programme and to take every opportunity provided to learn and grow.
A comprehensive training
As claimed, Waters Edge’s new apprentice programme truly is a comprehensive training course, where the trainees will be appointed in the many venues owned by Waters Edge every three months, with theory and practical evaluations conducted at the end of each period over a wide array of topics such as customer service, practical skills and many others. Apprentices will have to prove themselves, and subsequently, be appointed in a completely different venue, where they will have to adapt and learn how to handle themselves in a completely different environment, with different cuisine and clientele.
When the two years are complete, not only will the apprentices be equipped with the wide range of skills, but also a recognised training certificate that will be accepted worldwide.
Also joining the gathering was Chairman and CEO of Waters Edge, Rohan Fernandopulle, who also shared words of encouragement for the apprentices as well.
“I once started out as an apprentice, just like you,” he said, sharing his journey to success. “These two years will be challenging, but will help you establish all the basics you need to succeed in the future.
“The contents of this programme are a result of a lot of planning and effort to make this come to fruition. We are working with NAITA as well to make this two-year programme a passport to the food and hospitality industry across the globe.”
Wishing the new apprentices well, Rohan Fernandopulle encouraged the young audience to reach for the stars, to become the best they can be, forming a new generation of professionals to take Sri Lanka to the world and elevate the hospitality industry both in the country and internationally, which he points out to be the goal of this entire programme; to groom a new generation of greats.
Pix by Manjula Dayawansa