New Training to Boost Customer Service Skills at Cultural Venues

New training being rolled out across Newcastle and Gateshead will significantly improve the skills of employees working at some of the region’s top cultural venues.

More than 100 people in front-of-house and other customer services roles at Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV), a partnership of 10 organisations operating 20 venues across Tyneside, are already benefitting from the free business skills training being delivered in the coming months thanks to funding from the European Social Funds.

The move will ensure that the highest standards of customer service and care is provided to the thousands of people who visit the region’s attractions and cultural hot-spots each year.

Some members of staff are undertaking specialist management, IT and accessibility training as part of an initiative designed to widen access to learning and close the regional skills gap.

The training is being delivered by Gateshead College and their subsidiary company Amacus among others as part of the regional skills and enterprise programme, Go>Grow.

This comes on the back of £15m of funding secured by Gateshead College from the European Social Fund through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Baltic, Dance City, Centre for Life, Live Theatre, Northern Stage, Sage Gateshead, Seven Stories, Theatre Royal and City Hall, Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums and Tyneside Cinema are members of NGCV, working in partnership to ensure that the venues have staff with the right level of skills and training to support visitors, audiences and the organisations.

NGCV partners have all undertaken training needs analysis, identified skills gaps and needs and worked with Gateshead College to identify and roll out appropriate training for staff and volunteers. 

Wherever possible, partners also try to ensure staff train together, to increase the benefits for individuals, organisations and customers.

Training across the 10 organisations, which will be ongoing until summer 2018, will be overseen by NGCV’s HR Network, which consists of HR leads from each organisation.

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College said:

“Go>Grow is a fully funded programme that will see us working together with other training providers to meet the skills needs of many of the region’s businesses.

“This will contribute to the economic prosperity of the North East, benefitting local employees and organisations like Sage who need upskilled and confident workforces.”

Ian Burke head of HR for Sage Gateshead, added: “This funded training is helping our employees to increase their management and leadership skills, better understand customer needs as well as increase their skills, boost their confidence, help them to progress their careers in the cultural sector.”

Declan Baharini, partnership co-ordinator for NGCV said: “There will be a proportion of training dedicated to equipping people with skills to cater for visitors with additional needs, such as those who have, or care for people with dementia or autism spectrum disorders.

“This training will be a very important part of the roll-out, boosting awareness of how to provide a high level of customer service to those with additional needs and widening further access to our venues for people with special requirements.”

Go>Grow has the backing of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and North-East England Chamber of Commerce.

Experts will work to develop training that meets the individual needs of businesses, or offer those who wouldn’t ordinarily undertake training programmes, the opportunity to access bespoke packages specific to their needs.

A tailor-made programme is then developed and delivered at any of the Go>Grow training provider sites, or within the premises of the individual businesses.