Rising stars

With Zakaria Bentaleb, trainer director, Umbrella Training...

What is your current role and what does it entail?

I am currently a trainee director for Umbrella Training as part of its NEXTGEN leader programme. Umbrella is an apprenticeship provider that operates across the hospitality sector, including contract caterers.
I work within the finance and audit department, but the apprenticeship covers all areas within the business. I have covered business relations, sales, social media and recruitment activities. I aim to finish my current apprenticeship by November this year, and then start my level 6, which is equivalent to degree level, focusing on more strategic elements of the job.

Why did you want to work in foodservice?
When I was 14 years old, I decided I needed a part-time job. My family has always been involved within the hospitality sector, so I always loved this sector.
I started work as a waiter in a small café for a few hours a week outside of my school hours. The role was hard but I knew I needed to learn more.

What education, training and competitions have you undertaken to get this far?
I started my apprenticeship when I finished my A levels. I knew I wanted to work with young people and thought apprenticeships were a good way to do this. I started as a business administrator for Umbrella and then decided to study the digital marketing apprenticeship at intermediate level.
I then applied for the NEXTGEN leader programme within Umbrella and am now working towards a degree equivalent apprenticeship. All of these apprenticeships have really given me the knowledge and experience to mature and, hopefully, grow into one of Umbrella's future leaders.

How could contract catering businesses attract more rising stars into the sector?
Businesses need to embrace this generation and the ones emerging in the future. Priorities are different for young people and leadership needs to understand this. I have seen through the recruitment activities we do for apprenticeship vacancies that young people demand more flexibility in their working lives and a consistent pattern to fit in with their social lives.
Work is not a sole priority anymore but a work-life balance is. Pay is not everything but fair pay is. Recognition and progression is another demand we see. Hospitality is the best sector for this!

What do you enjoy about the industry?
All of it! Not one day is the same and I have a flexible job that keeps me learning and being inspired. The sector has so many opportunities for everyone and this is exciting.
The new digital world also excites me. The new dimensions it will bring to the sector will be phenomenal and create a new energy that will excite young people in return as well.

What trends do you predict for the future?
When you see platforms that provide investment opportunities where people hope to ‘get rich quick’, you know the direction young people may be taking. Game Stop is a prime example of this and the savviness of young people to take over the stock markets to the point where others lost billions.
The next generation will want a fast track to success. Leadership programmes need to be there to retain their young people.

What is your biggest ambition?
To run Umbrella and to continue to promote the value of meaningful apprenticeships.