And the @BIIandBIIAB #NITA16 Trainer of the Year is….


Donna Hewitson of People Stuff Matters (left), Zara Costello of Star Pubs & Bars (Centre) and Hayley McQueen of Sky Sports  (right)

The winners of the 2016 BII National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) are announced

The BII is delighted to unveil the six overall category winners of the 2016 NITAs, a national awards programme celebrating the very best in training excellence and innovation within licensed retail.

First run in 1991, the NITAs were re-launched this year by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) at a glittering awards ceremony at the iconic Café de Paris in London’s West End on November 21st. The finalists over six categories joined top operators from across the sector to hear this year’s winners announced by sponsor SKY presenter Hayley McQueen.

The six NITA award categories are designed to showcase both individuals and businesses operating in today’s licensed retail sector who demonstrate that they are truly putting their people first, with innovative training programmes that encourage long-term careers in the sector.

The judging process is the most rigorous of its kind, and following a huge number of written entries received by the BII this summer, finalists were chosen by the BII judging panel and then asked to present in person to a panel of independent industry professionals and sponsors, followed by an in-depth interview.

The BII’s CEO Mike Clist said: “The most successful individuals and businesses in the licensed retail market today are those that truly invest in, support and champion their people. It was therefore absolutely essential that the BII re-launched the NITAs for 2016, to celebrate and share their success so that we can raise standards of training across the board and encourage further innovation in this area.

“The bar has been raised high by the winners of the 2016 NITAs, each of whom has demonstrated how they creatively use time and resources. In particular the involvement of staff in designing training programmes, can benefit an entire business from the ground up and directly impact financial performance and growth.

“Huge congratulations from the whole team at the BII go to our 2016 champions and all of our finalists. Our grateful thanks also go to the panel of expert judges who spent a lot of their time with the finalists face-to-face before selecting our worthy crop of winners.”

The winners of the 2016 NITAs are:

Professional Trainer of the Year – Sponsored by Star Pubs and Bars

This award focuses on the trainer’s innovative approach to training design, delivery methods, recognition of learning styles, evaluation skills and a commitment to continuous personal development.

Winner: Donna Hewitson

Judges’ comments: The judges were particularly impressed with Donna’s ability to completely engage with learners, the passion, training style and professionalism. There was also real innovation and creativity in her use of the latest technology to deliver really great training.

Individual Operator Trainer of the Year – Sponsored by the BII

This award is for individual operators or managers responsible for training in their own premises. It focuses on innovation, their approach to training and their skills in coaching and developing their teams on a daily basis.

Winner: Glen Duckett of the Eagle and Child, Ramsbottom

Judges’ comments:  The judges said that not only did Glen score highly in all the main criteria for this award, but the sheer passion, energy, innovation and drive he showed for developing young people for a real hospitality career was remarkable.

Training Company of the Year – Sponsored by Greene King Pub Partners

This award recognises training companies and organisations which demonstrate an innovative and modern approach to training and development, set against clear objectives and individual needs.  The judges were particularly expecting to see some real innovation in both methods and types of training used as well as a company that embraced diverse training needs.

Winner: Springboard & Diageo

Judges’ comments: The Springboard & Diageo partnership team really impressed the judges with their sheer energy, passion and dedication and showed they were really in tune with such a diverse range of learner backgrounds and needs.

Best Development Programme (Leased & Tenanted Companies) – Sponsored by Wadworth

This award sets out to recognise innovation and excellence in supporting operators and employees through structured, accessible and flexible training whilst being able to demonstrate the benefits of such training by measuring the impact on both company, outlet or individual performance.

Winner: Greene King Pub Partners

Judges’ comments: Whilst the standard in this category was really high, Greene King Pub Partners stood out from the rest because, ultimately, they were the company that the judging panel would most want to work with.

Best Managed Company for Training (Less than 30 outlets) – Sponsored by Admiral Taverns

This award looked at companies in the managed licensed retail sector operating less than 30 outlets. Judges were looking for evidence of commitment to supporting all levels of employees through structured, accessible and flexible training, and companies that can demonstrate that their people and supporting them through excellent training are at the centre of their business ethos.

Winner: Anglian Country Inns

Highly Commended: Fayre Inns

Judges’ comments: The judges had a really hard time in this category as this sector of the industry has grown enormously in recent years and examples of real creativity and energy are everywhere. So much so they felt compelled to announce a Highly Commended award for Fayre Inns in recognition of their training programme devised by the pub managers themselves to create “habit forming training” and aimed at “making learning fun”.

But the winner in this category, Anglian Country Inns, really stood out for the judges, as everywhere they looked within this organisation they saw really well thought through training. “Rising Stars” and “Shining Stars” programmes were well defined and delivered and there was an ethos of treating staff as family and wanting them to succeed.

Best Managed Company for Training (More than 30 outlets) – Sponsored by CPL Training

The judges were looking for some really solid measurement of the effectiveness of training both in terms of internal staff development and retention as well as actual commercial results.  They also grilled the entrants on how training was contributing to ‘future proofing’ their businesses against the challenges facing their industry as well as evidence that training was really embedded in their people culture.

Winner: Stonegate Pub Company

Highly commended: St. Austell Brewery

Judges’ comments: The standard was fiercely high in this category so the judges awarded a Highly Commended to St. Austell Brewery in recognition of their skill in making every penny work well and some really engaging and innovative thinking in involving a lot of their own employees as Ambassadors for Training.

But the winner in this category, Stonegate Pub Company, really did stand out with a whole career path of training from kitchen porter to senior management that pushed the boundaries of technology to improve training accessibility and engagement.

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Widow, Cats, Family, People Stuff, Exec Coach, Food Nerd, Gin Queen.

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