Simple Examples of Effective Appreticeships’ Practices in SMEs
This case provides examples of:
- how to monitor and stimulate progress
- how to involve and trust your apprentice
- inclusiveness of people with special needs
Restaurant Villa Podvin, which is located in an old stable of a country mansion, has 40 years of fine dining tradition. For the last ten years, it is run by one of top chefs in Slovenia, Uroš and his business partner, Marcela. Both owners have more than 20 years of experience on different positions in culinary and tourism, and their credo is local tradition and cooperation with food producers in the region, providing fresh and authentic ingredients on the table and also on the food market run weekly by the restaurant.
Due to its reputation and the nearby existence of a Tourism Vocational School and a Home for People with Special Needs, the restaurant has a steady inflow of interested apprenticeship candidates, who are judiciously selected for the short number of placements offered every year to both students with and without special needs.
This healthy competitive environment is also translated in the evaluation methodology applied during the apprenticeship: Uroš and Marcela believe the main criteria for success to be the independence of the student, and therefore, by the end of the apprenticeship, s/he should be capable to do most of the tasks autonomously and in a creative way. The pace of promotion at work – or in other words, the tasks that the apprentices are gradually allowed to perform by themselves – depends on their performance, which includes criteria such as creativity, self-confidence and the quality of their interaction with the rest of the team.
So far, an average of ten people work at Vila Podvin regularly, including students and part time employees, some of them ex-apprentices. The owners are very satisfied with the experience, as they believe the curiosity and new energy of young people bring fresh ideas and new knowledge to the restaurant, which is much appreciated by their customers.