Since its inception in 1999, the RSA has delivered training to over 15,000 bar staff in Ireland.
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, Irish Hotels Federation Chief Executive Tim Fenn and John Mulcahy, Head of Food Tourism, Hospitality Education and Standards at Fáilte Ireland, attended the launch of the national online training initiative for 100,000 bar staff which prioritises customer safety, protection of minors and the moderate consumption of alcohol.
In addition to the current face-to-face RSA training, the RSA Online course is in response to the demand for a more accessible and cost-effective server training option.
The new initiative is a 90-minute online (e-learning) course consisting of an interactive learning component, examination and certification covering:
* Alcohol – the product and its effect on the body
* Protection of children, ID-checking guide
* Development of policies and procedures for licensed premises
* Intoxicating Liquor Act – responsibility of the server and licence-holder
* Handling ‘Car Bars’ and other new phenomena
* Seasonal topics – customer safety – monitoring a busy bar at Christmas/Weddings etc.
Following extensive global research and in consultation with key industry personnel, the RSA Online course has now been approved by medial and legal experts.
“Bartenders and servers have a tough job pleasing the customers and obeying the law can be challenging,” explained alcohol.ie-owner Mary Kennedy at the launch, “In 2004 changes in legislation meant that the bartender can be personally liable if the law is broken.”
She pointed out that before they trained staff, only about 15% of participants were aware of this and even less were aware of other crucial aspects of the law in relation to their job.
“With no training required for staff serving alcohol, is it fair to prosecute a barman or women if a customer gets intoxicated on the premises?” she asked.
From her experience the lack of knowledge in key areas was evident. She took a cross-section of staff from premises pre-training and asked them if they agreed with the following true statements:-
* The law states that it’s an offence to serve alcohol to an intoxicated customer. Over 90% believed it to be false.
* A vodka and tonic has about half the alcohol content of a standard glass of wine. Over 70% thought a glass of wine contained less alcohol than a single vodka and tonic.
* It is against the law for parents to allow their underage son or daughter to have a drink on a licensed premises – almost 80% did not know this.
“In my opinion RSA training should be a pre-requisite for all staff working with alcohol, which is the case in the UK and a vast number of countries around the world; the US, Australia, Canada etc.
“Until it’s made a legal requirement, the VFI, LVA and IHF have committed to continue promoting the programme to their members.”
The programme aims to equip all staff in pubs, clubs, hotels and restaurants with the skill-set needed to best serve the consumer.
Having achieved significant success through its face-to-face training, RSA Online is user-friendly, quick and comprehensive. It contains real-life scenarios, interactive quizzes and multimedia animation, providing a good knowledge base for all those employed in the service industry.
“Meeting all current EU guidelines and using the latest e-learning technology, the Irish RSA programme is recognised as one of the best server training courses in Europe,” she claimed, “Initial dialogue with the Department of Health has been good and we would urge the Department of Health to take a look at how this programme can be implemented for the benefit of those working in the service and sale of alcohol.”
“For example, we now include a comprehensive section on ‘House Policy’ development,” she explained, “This section incorporates procedures and rules in relation to service of alcohol in pubs, at parties/weddings/functions/residents bars. It deals with room service issues for hotels as well as secondary purchasing and issues restaurants are faced with.”
According to Donall O’Keeffe, Padraig Cribben and Tim Fenn, the collective feeling is that the Irish consumer will be able to enjoy a drink safe in the knowledge they’re being served by a fully-qualified staff member.
They also stressed the importance of alcohol being sold in a controlled and regulated environment and warned of the scant consideration being given to the manner in which alcohol is being sold in supermarkets up and down the length and breadth of the country.
RSA Online will also be the subject of an extensive research campaign being undertaken by Waterford Institute of Technology and co-ordinated by Dr Joanne Malone of the Department of Languages, Tourism and Hospitality. The research will assess the impact of online server training on the hospitality industry in Ireland.
It will be carried out across industry sectors and across various levels of staff (junior bartenders, managers/owners of licensed premises).
John Mulcahy, Head of Tourism at Fáilte Ireland, who also attended the launch, commented, “Fáilte Ireland is one of the original supporters of the RSA programme since its inception 15 years ago and remains committed to supporting its development and promotion particularly where tourists are likely to experience the benefits”.
He added that the RSA programme helps to positively contribute to the tourist experience in Ireland.
Bill McCann, Trainer on the RSA Programme, pointed out that the course had proved its usefulness in the past when, for example, it had been included in employee handbooks as part of a Health & Safety statement.
“In civil cases, where ‘overserving’ might have been a core issue of defence” he told Drinks Industry Ireland, “a Standard Operational Procedure or Method Statement might be sought by the judge where there was a question of some one having had too much alcohol.
“The SOP or MS defines the procedures in such circumstances which will be backed-up by house policy and training.”
He added that the course also covered the right to refuse, checking ID, handling intoxicated customers, defusing aggression and liquor licensing compliance generally.
“A barman might have 30 years’ experience but the court would still need to see that he’d been taught the SOP or MS for dealing with the issue in question,” he added.
The course can also have a positive influence on judges when considering returning late licensing hours to an outlet when evidence that the outlet concerned had undertaken this course was presented before the court.
For more information goto Alcohol.ie