People 1st, the hospitality sector skills council, has launched a new apprenticeship scheme to better accommodate the diverse needs of the industry.
Available to businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the new scheme has been extended to 18 specialist areas, including Asian and oriental cuisine, patisserie and confectionery.
In addition, a kitchen service route suitable for branded high street restaurants, branded contract catering outlets and licensed retail operations has been made available.
The new apprenticeship, which aims to offer employers flexibility on delivery, can be embedded within an organisation's in-house training scheme, while apprentices can progress in their own time or location with an option for online training and assessment.
Martin-Christian Kent, director of policy and research at People 1st, said: "While our sector has traditionally had strong apprenticeships, we now have a robust and versatile system that meets individual business needs. This should prove even more attractive to businesses as they provide the perfect vehicle to tackle specific skills gaps and develop and mould their own staff.
"In fact, 80% of businesses employing apprentices report that it has made them more competitive and reduced staff turnover."
To ease the transition between current and new apprenticeships, People 1st has negotiated with the National Apprenticeship Scheme that both schemes run in tandem until 30 September 2010.
By Janie Stamford
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