The apprentice

In September 2015, Gareth Sefton, director of UK-based consultancy SHW, took the unusual step of hiring an apprentice as a CAD technician. Michael Jones caught up with 17-year-old Jack Luckings to find out how he is enjoying the role

Apprenticeship schemes are a rare thing in the foodservice consultancy business. Gareth Sefton FCSI, director of leading UK consultancy SHW (SeftonHornWinch), decided to buck that trend in September 2015 when he made the firm UK Living Wage accredited and took on 17-year-old Jack Luckings as an apprentice CAD technician.

In the forthcoming Q1 Europe, Africa and Middle East edition of Foodservice Consultant Sefton talks at length about why he decided to launch the apprentice programme at SHW and his ambitions for the role. In advance of that, we spoke with Luckings to find out why took on the apprenticeship and how it is working out for him.

Michael Jones (MJ): What appealed to you about SHW’s apprenticeship scheme?

Jack Luckings (JL): I have always had an eye for design. When I found out about this role I saw that it revolved around design and, having had some experience in CAD at school, I thought it was a great opportunity. At school we learned about product design so I had quite a lot of transferrable skills to bring across. The whole design aspect of it was what drew me in. I didn’t actually have any experience with catering, so it was a whole new opportunity for me.

MJ: Were you aware of foodservice consultancy as a profession?

JL:  I had, but not an extensive knowledge of it. I knew that, obviously, someone has to design the kitchen and get all the equipment together. But I hadn’t delved any deeper into it.

MJ: Would you describe yourself as an artistic person?

JL: Yes, I studied art and I also did ICT (Information, Communication and Technology), which is designing documents for businesses, using PowerPoint, doing leaflets, brochures and letters. I also did graphic design, which included product design, so I have 3D and 2D knowledge and skills. I just love the whole creativity thing. It’s brilliant – just letting your imagination run loose. You can go anywhere with it, I suppose.

MJ: Having joined SHW, what is the appeal about this side of the industry?

JL:  Seeing all the projects that they do here, especially the renowned ones, like Heston’s Fat Duck restaurant. I went there on my third day here and I just thought, ‘wow’. I deal with all of the CAD files, but I’m also seeing it for real. I’m actually seeing all the equipment being put in, seeing how it all comes together, and getting laid out, watching the interior designers do their bit. I just love that. It’s brilliant.

MJ: What about the placements you will be doing with manufacturers?

JL: I’m really looking forward to going to fabricators and seeing how the bespoke units are put together, because obviously that will just add to my knowledge of the whole catering industry. Then I can apply that knowledge for when I’m doing CAD drawings and understand it more.

MJ: What other placements are you looking forward to getting your teeth into?

JL: I’m also going to work in corporate buildings, hotel restaurants and kitchens. It is going to be amazing to get that first-hand experience. I think I learn better practically. If I can see the equipment in the kitchen, then I’ll see how it all comes together, how the kitchen staff work in the kitchen and how it all flows. Then I think I’ll be able to digest that knowledge and apply that as well as explain it a lot better to other individuals. I’ll understand it a lot better than, say, sitting in the office and just hearing someone telling me.

SHW’s Jack Luckings will be blogging for the website throughout 2016