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In this episode, we get to learn about Richard Finlayson, his business, and how he and his team are adjusting to Covid. Richard is the Managing Director of Quality Training and Hospitality College and Hospitality Jobs in Australia. They have campuses in Adelaide, South Australia, and Sydney, New South Wales. They deliver hospitality training and management, and cookery classes.

Richard shared the impacts of the pandemic to the business (his staff and students) and the industry. He also shared how the government’s assistance (JobKeeper and JobTrainer) helped the business cope, and the strategies they put in place that allowed them to fast track their transition from face-to-face to online delivery for their students.

Richard also discussed how they plan to move forward, even with the pandemic, and to continue support for their students locally and internationally.

In this episode:

 

  • Who is Richard and what does he do?
  • For 26 years, Richard has been in the hospitality industry. He is currently the managing director of Quality Training and Hospitality College
  • His team specialises in hospitality training and management, and cookery
  • What are the impacts of Covid-19 on the business?
  • What are his biggest challenges?
  • Richard says the pandemic is the biggest challenge the company and industry has faced. Student placements and student engagements are specifically the biggest challenges they face
  • Richard discussed how the JobKeeper program helped their staff and students 
  • The pandemic sped up the online platform Richard and his team started developing last year and was launched early May this year. This is an online learning platform for the students.
  • “We, like many colleges throughout Australia suspended some of the payments, came up with payment plans and discounts, and we just really tried to assist them [our students] as best we could.”
  • What were the issues that came up with the online training?
  • Did Richard have any issues with the transition to online with their students?
  • “Doing the normal face-to-face and transferring that skill to online Zoom classes took a bit, but to be fair, the trainers transitioned incredibly well.”
  • “I think when the world is better, getting them [the students] to come back to class on a daily basis is going to be a bit of a struggle.”
  • What has been Richard’s biggest achievement through this? What is he most proud of?
  • During their last audit, 98% of their students would recommend Richard’s company to family and friends
  • Even with the lockdown and pandemic, Richard’s placement team had managed to successfully process work placements for their 105 students 
  • “People in Sydney were more reluctant to attend the classes face to face, whereas in Adelaide the response has been about 40 to 50% that returned to the face-to-face classes.” Richard said this may be due to geographical and public transport issues in Sydney.
  • Placements in New South Wales and Sydney are monitored.
  • What strategies have Richard put in place moving forward and looking in six to 12 months time?
  • “Blended learning is here to stay, and we’ve always had some form of blended learning.”
  • “In any crisis there’s always an opportunity.”
  • “The business has changed and there has been some major improvements. There’s no doubt about that. But we will always look to maintain some kind of face to face for certainly for them (the students) when it comes to the practical skills. And looking at delivering probably more online offshore as well. That’s in our strategy.”
  • Richard shares how this online delivery strategy has opened up new opportunities in the international market.
  • What other opportunities did Richard identify for the business moving into the future?
  • “I think when the recovery comes the industry will be busier than ever.”
  • “There are more students that I believe will want to come to Australia because it has been seen to be one of the world’s leaders in handling this crisis. And we are looking to expand our offering and build some more purpose-built kitchens cause the one in Sydney has worked so well. So we definitely see that as an opportunity moving forward.”
  • Richard thinks that there’ll be a transition back to more domestic training but when the world is good again, good colleges and the industry will be busier than ever before.
  • What opportunities does Richard see with a job trainer?
  • “In 27 years, I’ve always scratched my head and said, ‘When the state does something really well, why do the other states not follow or copy that model? They seem to go the opposite way.”
  • How having an audit process whilst going through the pandemic impacted Richard and his team?
  • “We learn a fair bit. We improved because of the audit and there’s a lot of positives we can take from it.”
  • How does Richard keep motivated each day?
  • Richard said, even with everything that has happened, the audit, Covid, and the changes to government funding and policies, knowing a student who’s completed a qualification and got a job or a better job, it’s really not hard to get motivated. 
  • “I don’t think there’s an RTO in Australia that hasn’t had frustrations and issues. But equally there’s not an RTO in Australia that hasn’t helped impact someone’s life incredibly positively.”