Last updated: 06.09.18

Skilling up-low cost high reward

Forward-thinking businesses should always be looking for ways in which they can improve, and investing in their employees is often one of the most effective. In the food and drink industry, training is one of the best ways that businesses can invest in their people. In this article, we’re going to consider how online learning could prove to be a high reward option for businesses in this industry.

The added value of training

First, we’re going to discuss some of the general benefits of having a well-trained group of employees. What are the benefits, and why should you invest money?

General competence

Most notably of course, training employees boosts the overall competence and effectiveness of the workforce. Training courses are put together to give employees the best and most relevant knowledge and skills for their role. They’re created by people who know exactly what works, and this will translate into your business. This can be most effective when supervisors or managers take a course. They can learn how to better create, implement and maintain good processes which ensure the smooth running of the business.

Risk mitigation

Food and drink businesses face all of the same risks that other organisations do, but they also face a few industry specific ones, and they can be quite significant. Most notably is the chance that food causes a severe allergic reaction in a customer, or that a foodborne illness is transmitted to a customer as a result of the business’ mistakes. These can be critical issues for a business, with fines, court cases and more all a potential result. Therefore, food and drink businesses should do everything in their power to ensure that employees are thoroughly prepared to carry out their duties in accordance with best practice standards.


In many industries, training is more than a business benefit - it’s a necessity. Whether it’s government, your local authority, or a trade body, there are many organisations that can insist on certain types of training for certain employees. The food and drink industry is one that often finds that training is mandatory. Under EU law, anyone working with food, whether preparing or serving, must be adequately trained for their role. The specifics of what constitutes adequate is open to interpretation, but most larger organisations will consider one of the widely recognised Level 1, 2 or 3 Food Hygiene Certificates as the standard. Many local authorities require that those working with food in schools and other educational settings have a Level 2 certificate, and similarly, most NHS trusts mandate that food services employees renew their training yearly.

Employee loyalty

Our final point to cover is often forgotten by those with a business-centric view, but it’s important to understand that training is often seen as a major benefit by employees themselves. It’s a valuable asset to them that they can use both in their current role, and should they move on in the future. It’s important to realise that employees may move on, and that you may well be giving them training that they take elsewhere, but the benefits of training them far outweighs this. In most cases, investing in your employees will build on their loyalty, which means you’re ultimately going to have a better retention rate. It’s less tangible, but employees that feel valued will also work harder for the business - even separate to the new skills and knowledge that you’ve given them.

The benefits of online learning

Now that we understand a little more about the benefits of training, let’s take a look at online training in particular. It’s been around for a few years now, but still not enough businesses are taking advantage of the benefits it can offer. How do the costs and timescales compare? Is this training effective?


Cost is always going to be one of the biggest considerations for an employer when investing in its staff, and this is one of the strongest attractions of online learning. As you’re not paying directly for tutor costs, and you don’t need to send your employees away on a course, the costs can be considerably lower than more traditional forms of learning. The food hygiene courses in particular are low-cost options, and it isn’t expensive to put a large number of employees through the course. It’s also generally quite easy to compare course fees too - you won’t need to ring around different providers to see who can offer the best deal.


One of the biggest attractions of e-learning is that it’s much more flexible than sending someone out for a course. With a course, you need to send an employee away for several hours, a day or more, and this can impact your staffing levels. With e-learning, you’re in complete control of the course, which means that you can start and come back to it at any point you like. This could mean that employees do a little learning before and after their normal shift starts, which reduces the time impact of the course. If things are particularly quiet in the restaurant, then they can grab some training time. Similarly, if a training morning has been booked in but the member of staff would be better used on the factory floor, that’s not a problem.

Ease of use

Online learning is very straightforward, both for a business and a learner. You purchase the course from a provider, the learner registers, and then the course is available online to be taken at any time. The course platforms themselves are generally very easy to understand, and are similar to navigating a website, with information to study and interact with. They often have a small test at the end. There’s no complexity or specialist knowledge required to use the learning system.

Pace of learning

Naturally, some people are quicker to learn than others. On training courses, the tutor will generally need to accommodate everyone, which does sometimes mean that quicker learners are delayed, and slower learners aren’t given the time that they need. With online learning providers, the individual learner is in control of what they learn and when, which can help ensure that everyone feels as though they’re going at the right pace for them.


The combination of flexibility and pace of learning means that it can be quicker to fully train your workforce with online learning. There’s no need to wait until everyone is available for group courses, and small amounts of learning can be interspersed with work. If you take on a new member of kitchen staff for instance, you can very quickly put them through a Level 2 Food Hygiene Certificate in a few hours before their first shift. It doesn’t take long to organise or undertake.


Our final point of consideration is consistency of course material. If you purchase the same courses for your employees, then you can be confident that they’re all going to cover all of the right points - there won’t be any missed information. Although the vast majority of tutors are excellent at their job, there is always the chance that learners will come away with slightly different experiences. This isn’t always a bad thing, but when dealing with food hygiene, you want to know that all of your employees have the right information, especially if it pertains to safety and legal obligations.

Where to Start

If your food business has training needs, and you’re not sure where to start, then take a look at our main page for food-related courses. We’re pleased to be able to offer a wide variety of courses, suitable for both entry-level employees, and more experienced supervisors or managers. These courses can be purchased and taken online, and many can be completed within a matter of hours.


To conclude, online learning could be an excellent way for businesses in the food and drink industry to improve their productivity, reduce risks, and adhere to any regulations they need to follow. It’s a low cost alternative to more traditional types of learning, it’s flexible, and can deliver exactly what competitive businesses need to succeed.