This year’s 14th #NationalApprenticeshipWeek will be unlike any that has gone before it. But while it’s impossible to avoid the fact that the hospitality sector is facing an incredibly difficult and uncertain time, we also have to remember that it will eventually bounce back. And as that starts to happen, apprenticeships will play a vital part in the rebuild strategy.

With more than 40,000 apprentices across the hospitality sector, National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity for employers and training providers to share how they train and retain apprentices and how they’re achieving a return on their apprenticeship investments. And it’s also a springboard to help us look ahead at how apprenticeships can futureproof the workforce and boost careers as well as helping individuals to thrive by gaining valuable workplace skills and knowledge.

Although the pandemic has interrupted the learning and development strategies of hospitality employers, Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK and Ireland said they’ve made a firm commitment to apprenticeships and that their apprenticeship programme is how they can offer career development across both culinary and operational roles.

“The hospitality industry has been one of the most badly affected by the COVID-19 crisis and there is a real danger that we will lose a generation of talent who will drift away from contract catering, restaurants, hotels and other foodservice jobs in search of better career opportunities. We are determined not to let that happen. We have always been a vital part of the UK economy, offering meaningful employment for millions of committed industry professionals and the time will come again very soon when our industry is back on its feet. At that point we will need a motivated and well-trained workforce to breathe new life into our venues and operations.”

According to People & Culture Consultant Sean Wheeler, as well reductions in recruitment and payroll costs, apprenticeships offer fantastic, structured progression routes that serve as a valuable route to develop talent through the business.

“Apprenticeships provide a structured development programme that includes not just technical skills but also self-leadership skills such as time management, personal persona and image, making a positive impression and how to lead others. Having a development plan for each apprentice that includes post apprenticeship job roles and skills, making apprentices a top choice for internal progression and showcasing their talent through competitions such as an ultimate cook off / serve off can greatly encourage the retention of apprentices, keeping future talent in the business.”

Through the Hospitality Skills & Quality Board, employers have worked hard over recent years to develop the sector’s apprenticeship standards and ensure they are fit for purpose. This employer-led approach has given the sector confidence in the content and delivery of apprenticeships and provided a valuable talent pipeline. Moving forward, it will also prove vital in ensuring that hospitality employers can define effective post-pandemic progression routes and align workplace skills and vocational education activities.

As part of these efforts to address the future talent pipeline and improve the quality of technical education, People 1st International has been leading an industry response back to the Department for Education on the current consultations into level 2 & 3 qualifications. This represents a critical opportunity to build on the success of industry apprenticeships and correct the post-16 pathways into the hospitality industry. This is needed now more than ever to support the industry as it rebuilds.

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