Oisin McMillen became the proud franchise owner of Café Bia in 2013 at the age of 22 shortly after completing apprenticeships training with Springvale. He met with us to chat about the benefits of the training to his career and his future as a young franchise owner…
Oisin, tell us about your background and when you decided to commence a career in hospitality?
I have been working in the hospitality industry from the age of 14. When I was 16, I left school and went to college assuming this was the path I had to take. After two months I realised this wasn’t for me and left the course to work full time. I worked in various restaurants over the years and eventually progressed to become a manager when I joined Café Feirste in 2011.
I had been working in Café Feirste for a year when I was approached by Marie Small from Springvale. She explained the hospitality apprenticeships programme and that I would gain an English and Maths qualification as part of the course. From speaking to Marie, I knew this course was for me. I registered and began my Level 2 food and beverage service training.
Tell us about your time working with Springvale….
I really loved doing the course and working with Marie and my Essential Skills Tutor. Marie was so easy to work with. From her teaching, I very quickly realised the importance of food hygiene, health and safety as well as the impact of thorough communication with customers including those from different cultures who speak various languages.
I completed my Literacy and Communication Essential Skills Level 2 as part of the course. This was so important for me to achieve. I never realised the importance of these in school and it was only when I left school I understood that I needed Maths and English to even be considered for certain job roles. The course made me more aware of the hard work behind the scenes and how to run a business. Marie and my Essential Skills Tutor were so flexible with me and so easy to work with.
Have you any highlights as a result of working with Springvale?
In 2012, my Springvale tutors had nominated me for the Aisling Bursary and to my surprise I was shortlisted. The presentation took place in Conway Mill and I attended with my dad for the evening. I couldn’t believe it when my name was announced, and I was called on to the stage to receive one of the bursaries, I was so thrilled!
Tell us about your career since completing the programme?
After I finished the course, I felt so much more confident in my role as a manager. In January 2013, an opportunity was presented to tender for the Café Feirste franchise. Without training with Marie, I would never in a million years have even considered that I could apply for such a thing. I was delighted to have been announced as the franchise owner. I rebranded to Café Bia and re- employed all the staff who are still working beside me today!
I am so excited about my future with Café Bia. I would love to expand the business and build on our already existing catering element of the business.
As an employer who has completed the training would you recommend this programme to other employers and their staff?
I would 100% recommend the training. It’s beneficial for young people who may have been in my position when they left school and have no qualifications that are important for their future. This training gave me the opportunity to achieve my English and Maths which I would never thought I would get the opportunity to achieve.
March 7th, 2018