Craig Smith has gone from working in pubs, bars and hotels are far afield as Benidorm, to being a bar supervisor with Greene King thanks to our Get into Hospitality programme with The Prince's Trust.
Craig, 26, grew up in Newcastle but, after university, decided to look for work further afield, which led to hospitality jobs in pubs, bars and hotels as far as Benidorm in Spain.
After living overseas for four years, he found himself suddenly leaving for family reasons and moving to the Isle of Wight, where he stayed with his uncle. He was sharing a room with his cousin and felt he wasn't settling in, rurally isolated with no opportunities to make friends or do a job he loved.
After several months of unsuccessful job interviews, Craig decided that while the Isle of Wight was out of season, he was never going to find a job. So, with the help of his local Job Centre, he discovered The Prince's Trust and Greene King's Get into Hospitality programme, which helps 16-30 year olds gain valuable work experience, industry standard qualifications and the possibility of a job offer on completion of the course.
He recalls: “I was still staying with my uncle on the Isle of Wight and, although the course was in Portsmouth, I just thought, why not?
“I remember feeling nervous before I started, just because I didn’t know what to expect, but when I got there, the instructors could not have been more welcoming. They made me feel at ease straight away. My favourite part of the programme was probably just interacting with so many different people. As I already had experience in the hospitality industry, I could offer advice and help others. That brought my confidence right back up. I was even named star pupil!”
Craig had to make the long journey from the Isle of Wight each day to attend the programme and his work experience in Portsmouth. His commute included a bus, ferry and then a train. However, he still managed to be punctual and always full of enthusiasm for the programme.
Craig relocated to Havant during the programme and, once it ended, he gained a job at the Heron, which was the Greene King pub he had been training at. He has since returned to the North East, where he is bar supervisor at the Gold Medal in Gateshead.
Since completing the Get into Hospitality programme, Craig has enrolled on a Level 3 apprenticeship as a supervisor, which is funded by Greene King.
“The course came at just the right time for me and I do not know where I’d be now without it. Perhaps I’d still be searching for a job.
“The Prince’s Trust and Greene King have helped me just like they’ve helped so many others. I’d recommend the course to anybody looking for a job in hospitality. The knowledge and experience it gives you is so valuable, so why not give it a go?”
Craig now hopes to move up the ladder with Greene King and one day dreams of being general manager of his own pub.