A LEADING light in the restaurant industry was among the headliners at a hospitality and tourism conference.

Dr Shyam Patiar MBE, a WorldSkills UK training manager and international consultant, gave an inspiring presentation on the positive impact the ‘skills Olympics’ have had on catering and service.

Held at Coleg Cambria Deeside, more than 100 students and representatives from the sector heard how “heart and passion” are key to a long and happy career.

“I started out in 1962 and have never looked back,” said Dr Patiar.

“This industry is all about people; whether you’re selling an airline ticket or a coffee, you want the customer to return – that attitude is very important.

“Some people ask why we still train youngsters in service and fine dining because that part of the industry is dead, but that’s not the case.

“There are many hotels and restaurants across the UK where having staff with these high skill levels helps to grow their business and sales.

“There has also been an awakening due to the rise of WorldSkills, which looks set to grow even more.”

Now retired, Dr Patiar said his current focus is on helping Team UK achieve WorldSkills gold.

“We have some of the best hotels and restaurants in the world but have never done better than bronze in this category,” he added.

“My biggest passion now is to achieve that, to bring gold back to the UK.”

Among those in the audience was Hospitality and Catering student Emily Jones, who will represent Cambria on the Long Squad for WorldSkills 2020, to be held in Shanghai.

She had earlier taken part in the Restaurant Service competition at WorldSkills UK LIVE at the NEC Birmingham Arena in September.

“WorldSkills has been such a positive experience, being a part of it is extremely rewarding and I’ve learnt a lot about myself,” said the 19 year-old.

“There are so many more experiences I could potentially have, it’s very exciting and I thank the college for their support.”

The conference programme included a welcome by Coleg Cambria CEO Yana Williams and workshops with Big Ideas Wales mentors Sid Madge and George Savva, AA inspector Robert Martin, Andy Doyle from People 1st International, and Jet2.

There was also a live Q&A as part of the popular Staff Canteen college tour and a keynote speech by Sean Taylor, founder of Zip World.

Andy Woods, Deputy Director of Hospitality and Tourism at Cambria, said the response from learners and the sector was heartening.

“It’s been a fantastic day, the presentations and workshops were well-received and really caught the imagination of our students,” he said.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all our industry partners; these links are vital in giving the learners real-life experience of catering, tourism and hospitality and mean they are fully prepared for the world of work when they leave us.

“That combined with WorldSkills – which is a true test of ability and commitment – are among the reasons why these courses go from strength to strength.

“The turnout today and interest in the industry reflects the growth it is experiencing and the demand for more young and skilled workers – long may that continue.”

For more on Coleg Cambria, visit the website: www.cambria.ac.uk