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Hospitality firms urged to offer apprenticeships to plug skills gap

04 February 2011 by
Hospitality firms urged to offer apprenticeships to plug skills gap

Hospitality businesses are being urged to introduce apprenticeships to help fill more than one million vacancies expected in the industry over the next six years.

People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism, says the industry is facing a crisis with the pool of young people entering the workplace decreasing by 60,000 every year, at the same time as options such as recruiting from abroad are becoming less viable.

Speaking at the House of Commons this week, where the industry launched its new apprenticeship strategy, People 1st chairman, David Fairhurst, told a gathering of more than 200 people that the hospitality industry needs a skilled and motivated workforce to meet its full potential and build on the legacy of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"Apprenticeships are the lifeblood of our dynamic, innovative and fast-growing sector and People 1st working closely with sector employers is committed to raising the number of apprenticeships further to tackle the sector's skills needs and gaps," he said.

"Twenty-two thousand apprentices start their training each year and we aim to increase this to 30,000 by 2020 whilst boosting completion rates to 80%."

Barceló Hotels, Compass and KFC are among the companiesreaping the rewards of having introduced apprenticeships.

Des Lawson, HR director at Barceló Hotels acknowledges that apprenticeships have helped the company, which has 21 hotels, to retain people, as well as offer individuals career development and progression, over the past eight years.

"We identified skills gaps in our business, particularly chef skills, that we knew we had to fill and the answer for us was to train our own people," he said.

"Nowadays, the apprenticeship framework is far more flexible and employer-friendly - you can add on to them, tailor them and make sure they fit the business needs as well as those of the individual going through the qualification. The benefits far outweigh the costs and generally we see direct return within 12 months."

With more than 1,000 management vacancies to fill each year, Compass was finding it increasingly difficult and costly to fill these positions. The solution was to create a two-year, fast-track apprenticeship academy, combining off-the-job training, work shadowing and mentoring.

Now in its third year, the academy is already showing positive results with apprentices being promoted into junior management positions, with the required skills needed to be successful in the role. It is helping to alleviate recruitment problems by saving money and retaining talent within the company.

KFC introduced an advanced hospitality apprenticeship programme last year which aims to upskill its current and future management employees. While the company has had an in-house development programme for many years, they were not linked to nationally recognised qualifications, which is something that is a key motivator for job seekers and staff.

Although still early days, the results show that the programme is already having a significant impact on the company, which has more than 800 units in the UK, with a marked improvement in the decision making abilities of the apprentices, higher levels of confidence and improved business knowledge.

the apprenticeship strategy

â- Raise awareness of the Asian and Oriental specialist chef routes within the Professional Chef apprenticeship to support employers with responding to changes in migration policy.
â- Ensure that apprenticeships are robust and reflect the needs of the sector.
â- Reduce unnecessary barriers to employers offering apprenticeships and apprentices completing them.
â- Help retain apprentices on apprenticeship programmes.
â- Raise the demand for higher level apprenticeships.
www.uksp.co.uk/apprentice

apprenticeship week 2011 7-11 february

â- Showcase exemplary apprentices on your website.
â- Invite a local journalist to take part in a day in the life of an apprentice.
â- Invite an apprentice to shadow the general manager or executive chef for the day.
â- Hold an open day for young people to visit to see your apprentices in action.
â- Show appreciation to your apprentices by thanking them via newsletters and social media sites.http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.apprenticeships.org.uk

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