Apprenticeship funding: use it or lose it

14 March 2013
Apprenticeship funding: use it or lose it

Operators must act now to take advantage of Government funding for apprenticeship training, says Geoff Booth, chief executive of PACE

Now is the time for all hospitality employers to embrace apprenticeships and not just because it's National Apprenticehip Week. They represent a structured way of building our future success, encouraging young talent into the industry and training new and existing staff in the relevant skills and knowledge to build winning teams.

Apprenticeships work well in the hospitality sector, particularly when employers work closely with their local colleges. Their flexible design delivers effective training to suit the pace and energy of our fast-growing industry. But we must invest time and effort into their delivery and assessment. They should not simply be seen as a cheap labour option.

We must act fast to make the most of the current government funding for authentic apprenticeship training before it changes. I would urge all hospitality employers to get involved quickly before our funding is lost to other employment sectors. It really is a case of ‘use it or lose it'. You don't need to wait to get on-board as colleges now recruit to apprentice training programmes at all times of the year.

Apprenticeships offer a free comprehensive training programme for those aged 16-19 years. The money to support training for this age group is secured, so hospitality employers must embrace the recruitment of this group. Too often we hear that they are reluctant to take on staff of this age, as they are seen as too young, too unskilled and too inexperienced. I believe we are missing an opportunity to grow our own talent.

I would implore hospitality bosses to think differently and put their faith in young people. Work with your local college to recruit young apprentices and engage and inspire them in their hospitality career. The funding is there to support their development and colleges offer well-structured programmes to drive this alongside the employer. As a team we will reap the rewards. By motivating and engaging young people we will be taking strong steps towards growing our workforce of the future.

In September, we will see changes in government funded training. It starts with those over the age of 24 on Level 3 courses (including apprenticeships) having to take out a loan to pay for their training, as funding for this category ceases. After this, we can expect the loan system to spread to other levels of training. The funding goalposts change with alarming regularity, so do get involved in apprentice training now. Be sure, also, to use your local college for comprehensive information and advice on all aspects of apprenticeship training and recruitment.

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