Growth and development
Together with training provider Element Skills, which is part of Cardiff and Vale College, Charlie Bigham has developed a new Level 2 Business Improvement Techniques Apprenticeship. There are already 13 apprentices enrolled, who fall between the ages of 24 and 61.
The firm said that the scheme has been put into place to allow the growth and development of new team leaders. They will take on responsibilities across a wide range of areas in the Charlie Bigham production kitchen, from preparing the ingredients through to cooking and packing. In order to prepare for these roles, the apprentices will gain experience in all of the production and manufacturing jobs on site. They have also been promoted to team leader positions in preparation for their training.
The apprentices were chosen last September, during a recruitment drive, and are now seeing the fruits of that success.
Lauri Duncan is the Head of People at Charlie Bigham. She said, “As a company we are committed to ensuring our employees are happy in their roles and look to support their career progression wherever possible; brilliant, talented people are at the heart of what we do. We’re building a team for the future, with the skills and expertise to underpin and help drive the growth of our campus.”
Focus on people
There is a strong focus on training and promoting in-house at the firm, which now has more than 180 people in food jobs at the Dulcote site. They produce some of the more popular dishes sold by the company there, such as their Fish Pie, Cottage Pie, and Chicken Tikka Masala.
Element Skills team leader Jason Lloyd was highly complimentary of the company and the work that they are doing to improve the skills of their team. He said, “Element Skills Training is extremely proud to be working with Charlie Bigham’s on providing quality training with a real emphasis on improving not just the business but also the potential of their people.”
The company was founded by Charlie Bigham himself in 1996, with the aim of creating food that tastes like it was made at home. After quitting his job at the time to travel India, he was inspired by the bright colours and bold flavours at work in the street food cuisine. After returning home, he was able to perfect three staple dishes: Caribbean lamb, salmon with dill sauce, and Cajun chicken. These became the basis of the original range, which was soon stocked in Waitrose.
The Charlie Bigham’s website also displays their keen focus on people, and in nurturing talent in-house. When reading about the company, you learn first about the eponymous founder, and are then taken to descriptions of each of the senior team members. You can even learn about which of the Charlie Bigham dishes they prefer to eat the most!
The team is obviously committed to doing things in a way that is slightly different to normal – by showcasing their ethics and ethos first and foremost, by using different names to describe their production site from generic terms like ‘factory’, and by choosing apprentices to become team leaders while they train. If the approach works, then it’s sure to be a great success for the company to do something different to what everyone else is doing. Breaking trends can often have great results – but can also be ill-advised at times!