Local publicans urged to sign up for Bar Manager Apprenticeship

First-year Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Bar Manager apprentice, Emma Hanley, says the degree programme has given her a real insight into her chosen career. Pic: Eamon Ward.

Publicans in Roscommon are being urged to sign up for the first ever apprenticeship to train a new generation of bar managers, which was launched recently to tackle the crippling staff shortages faced by the hospitality sector.

The three-year course is backed by State and employer funding and sees the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), Griffith College and Solas joining forces to reverse the pub sector’s post-Covid struggle to retain staff.

VFI Chief Executive, Paul Clancy, says the apprenticeship, available nationwide through Griffith College, will be critical to addressing the issue: “At a time when staff recruitment is cited as the number one issue for the hospitality business, this degree will play a vital role in retaining key personnel,” he said.

The Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is a work-based learning programme in which apprentices will be able to work, earn and learn to become fully-qualified bar managers.

Students already working in the bar trade are sponsored by their employer to develop the broad range of skills necessary to operate at the highest level in the industry, spending one day a week in lectures over three years.

Limerick City-based first-year Vintners’ Federation of Ireland Bar Manager Apprentice Emma Hanley (23) said: “The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland’s Bar Manager Apprenticeship Degree is very well structured, allowing me to learn in-depth about the trade, whilst putting the practical elements to use and earning at the same time. It is a great way to learn and you gain great insight”.

JJ Mulcahy, owner of The Old Quarter, which has three apprentices, including Emma, and which hosted the launch of the programme by Minister of State for Further and Higher Education, Niall Collins, said: “Experience is critical in this trade, but so is knowledge of the ever-changing legal and regulatory framework.

“The concept is wonderful. This is an industry which can give you a good career, but you have to put the time and effort into learning it”.

Griffith College President, Professor Diarmuid Hegarty, said the qualification would assist in the bar trade in the post-pandemic environment.

“We have worked closely with the Vintner’s Federation of Ireland to develop a practical and applied qualification which will enhance the skills and competencies of staff as the pub industry re-ignites after the challenges of Covid,” he said.

Employers are eligible for a grant per registered apprentice, and applications are now open for the September intake. Employers can register interest at on the Griffith College website.