The three-year degree course, backed by State and employer funding, was officially unveiled in Limerick recently.
According to a Fáilte Ireland survey released last February as many as nine in 10 hospitality businesses have problems recruiting staff, with many employers linking the shortage to a lack of training.
At the launch, VFI Chief Executive Paul Clancy said that the Apprenticeship, available through Griffith College in Cork, Dublin and Limerick, will be critical to addressing the issue.
“At a time when staff recruitment is cited as the number one issue for the hospitality business, this degree will play a vital role in retaining key personnel,” he said.
The Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is a work-based learning programme in which apprentices will be able to work, earn and learn to become fully-qualified bar managers.
Students already working in the bar trade can be sponsored by their employer to develop the broad range of skills necessary to operate at the highest level in the industry, spending one day a week in lectures over three years.
School-leavers with experience in the bar trade and career-changers are also eligible for the course.
Kilfinane native Emma Hanley is apprenticed to The Old Quarter Pub in Limerick.
“The Apprenticeship has given me a real insight into my chosen career,” said the 23 year-old Limerick City-based First-Year VFI Bar Manager Apprentice, “The VFI’s Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is very well structured, allowing me learn in-depth about the trade whilst putting the practical elements to use and earning at the same time. It’s a great way to learn and you gain great insight.”
Her employer, JJ Mulcahy, owner of The Old Quarter which has three apprentices including Emma and which hosted the launch of the programme, added, “The work and study elements of the VFI Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree gives a great advantage in terms of career options.
“The Apprenticeship is a wonderful way to retain and develop staff.
“The work and study elements of the VFI Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree gives a great advantage in terms of career options,” he said, “Experience is critical in this trade but so is knowledge of the ever-changing legal and regulatory framework.
“The concept is wonderful. This is an industry which can give you a good career but you have to put the time and effort into learning it.”
The Apprenticeship programme was launched in Limerick by Minister of State for Further and Higher Education Niall Collins.
Mary Liz Trant, Interim Director of the National Apprenticeship Office described the programme as “exceptional” and “innovative”, adding, “This Apprenticeship is a key example of an in-demand skills-based course.
“The VFI and Griffith College have developed an exceptional programme that offers important pathways to employment at the highest level in the industry, with 21st Century skills to compete in the sector.”
Employers are eligible for a grant per registered apprentice and applications are now open for the September intake. Employers can register interest at: