A trio of young friends are the latest success story for Capital Training’s Hospitality programme.
Destiny Johns, Mikaila Stafford and Taylor Ward have been friends since aged 14 when they met at Heretaunga College. They recently completed a Hospitality course at Capital Training and have subsequently secured employment together. The Upper Hutt tertiary learning centre can now boast three graduates all working at Lower Hutt’s busy Janus Bakery.
After leaving school in Year 12, the young women had taken various pathways in work and study but struggled with periods of unemployment. For Mikaila, it was particularly challenging, “Me with study, it just didn’t mix. It was too hard. So I left school, and it left me in a bit of a rut.”
It was Taylor who started the conversation about joining the Hospitality course. She explains, “Mikaila and I were always talking about how it was really hard to find work after having a break. Mikaila hadn’t done any study, so it was ten times harder for her. I knew that students from our college had gone to Capital Training sometimes through school, and I thought, why not give it a crack?”
The Hospitality, Level 2 programme is a free 12-week course aimed towards adult learners who are interested in working in the café industry. The units of study are based around the art of making and serving great coffee, while providing excellent customer service. Graduates are awarded the New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Customer Service & Sales), Level 2. Capital Training also offers a combined Retail and Hospitality programme enabling participants to achieve the Hospitality certificate as well as the NZ Certificate in Retail, Level 2.
Taylor had previously gained a Level 3 certificate in food and beverage and had a bit of experience working in the industry. She considered the Level 2 Hospitality programme at Capital Training would be another string to her bow, “It ended up being the best thing for me.”
Mikaila admits she didn’t have the same outlook and had reservations about the theory content of the course. She laughs, “I was not interested, at all. I did not want to do any bookwork! I didn’t plan on getting a job anytime sooner either. But Taylor pushed me to do that, which in turn gave me a better step up.”
Taylor was also the one to convince Destiny. She says, “It’s about finding the motivation to do the course, and to get a job. I reminded Destiny, ‘You haven’t got a job. This could change your whole life’. And she came in motivated every single day – early, even. Finding that motivation as to why you want to do it, and what it could do for you, is a big one. Ask yourself, ‘What could this do for me? Why do I want to do this?’ I found it, and that’s what pushed me to come to course every day.”
All three started together and completed on the same day 12 weeks later. The friends are a tight-knit group, but they did have different experiences. Taylor explains, “It was different for all of us. Each of us had our ups, and we all had our downs.” At one point, Taylor had a personal upheaval and considered quitting. “But these two encouraged me to complete the course and get the qualification. And now I’m working full time with them. That support really does help.”
They also credit Capital Training staff for recognising their individual learning needs. Upper Hutt Centre Team Leader, Bruce Ridley responds, “Everyone works differently, and what we try to do is facilitate those different types of learners. Everyone that comes in is different, so we cater to the individual learning needs and try to respond to them.”
Halfway through the course, a change in personnel meant that Hospitality Tutor, Mandy Kelly had to squeeze the practical element of the programme into just three weeks. She says the girls were successful because they were keen to learn. Their attendance was great, and they got through the content in the required time because they were committed.
Bruce adds, “I hold these guys in high regard because they pushed through. They stuck with it. And Mandy made it ‘real world’ for the girls. She has got so much experience in the hospitality environment, and she’s able to bring that into the centre.”
For Taylor, the delivery style at the Upper Hutt centre was a good change, “It’s not even like a course really, it’s kind of like a place that you come to get your qualification. You can chill, you can hang out, do all that stuff. The tutors keep you on track, so you still get the work done.”
Bruce says because Capital Training prepares students for industry, they try and replicate a workplace in the centre, “The learners are not spoken down to. They’re spoken to as staff. It’s a working kind of environment. You’ve got to get things done, but you can have some fun along the way.”
The small class sizes and diversity of learners was also a great way to build the ‘people skills’ needed for the hospitality industry. Taylor says, “I built my confidence here at Capital Training. I had zero confidence before I came to this course. I took a leadership role, and it built my confidence in talking to younger people, and then older people. That’s where I got a lot of my confidence from – being with different age groups.” Destiny agrees, “I enjoyed meeting everyone along the way – different ages, people from different places. I found it very supportive, and everyone was very welcoming. It was a good environment to learn in and work in.”
At work, the girls all agree they are “definitely” using skills learned on the course, and they have encouragement from their managers at Janus Bakery too. Taylor says the busy environment of the café has strengthened their relationships, “In work, we juggle the roles. I could be on the machine all day because I’m the barista. If the others see me struggling, one will come over and help, and the other one will take over that person’s job. We let each other know. We say, ‘If you need me, I’m here’. With that support, we make it happen. By the end of the day, we’re all leaving laughing and cracking jokes. It’s a big support system between the three of us.”
Bruce observes, “When you start a new job, you have to build new relationships. These guys have already got the relationship.”
Employment has given them all a new lease of life. Taylor says, “Before I started this course, I was really stressed because my partner works full time, and he was constantly having to work to fund everything. I was on the benefit since the moment I turned 18. If I was still on that now, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself because I hated it. I hated being the one to sit at home, not really doing anything, and having no money, and my partner taking it all on.”
For Mikaila, being employed has boosted her overall wellbeing, “Seven months ago I wasn’t getting out of bed. I wasn’t doing anything. Now, I actually have a reason to get out of bed.”
The future is looking bright for the group. Taylor is looking to expand her leadership skills into a management role, and possibly seek a future role with NZ Police. Mikaila can now start to develop her plans of heading towards Early Childhood Education or Nursing. Destiny is taking each day as it comes, “Each day I’m learning something different, or picking up more confidence, being more comfortable in the workplace, and being more comfortable with everyone else too.”
Taylor takes her inspiration from something her Aunty used to say to her frequently; “A bad day doesn’t make it a bad life” and she has recommended the Capital Training course to others, “Definitely come in with an open mind and just get to it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We obviously opened our minds a bit, and look at us now - we’re all working, getting the money to live, doing what we want, being able to afford stuff. Come in motivated and with an open mind, and you’ll get where you want to go.”