The impact of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic have acted as a catalyst for rising staff shortages in the hospitality industry, with businesses struggling to recruit new or experienced talent to meet demand as the sector reopens.
But Ian Price, Director at CBI Wales, believes apprenticeships provide a practical solution to help tackle the recruitment crisis and has urged those looking to get into work or taking steps towards a career change to capitalise on this opportunity.
Ian said: “Apprenticeships are a great way for individuals to learn new skills from experienced professionals in a real-life work environment while earning a wage.
“The hospitality sector is booming following a challenging period, and there is an abundance of apprenticeship opportunities for those who want to develop their skills for their future from day one.
“Not only can apprenticeships allow individuals to get ahead in their career but they can also help hospitality businesses attract fresh and eager talent who can train on-the-job to help strengthen the industry.”
Already making his mark in the hospitality sector is Siôn Wyn Owen, who recently won Apprentice of the Year for Hospitality, and Overall Apprentice of the Year in the North Wales Apprenticeships Awards held by Busnes@LlandrilloMenai and the Grŵp Llandrillo Menai Work-based Consortium.
Although now working as a Chef De Partie at 5* guest accommodation, Ty’n Rhos, Siôn’s plan wasn’t always to delve into this career. He said:
“I always wanted to be a musician when I grew up. I finished my GCSEs and went on to sixth form. After a few weeks, I knew it wasn’t for me so I decided to look for a part time job and that’s when I secured my first job in hospitality as a kitchen porter at a local restaurant.
“Whilst working there, I developed an interest in watching the chefs at work and the head chef saw potential in me and offered me a job as a commis chef. Although I was a shy teenager, I was eager to learn and develop my skills, so my new employers encouraged me to complete an apprenticeship.”
Siôn, 23, from Anglesey, has completed his Level 2 Professional Cookery Apprenticeship, and is now working towards his Level 3. He added:
“Since starting my apprenticeship, I’ve been motivated to improve day on day. A practical learning environment is better suited to me, and I’ve been able to gain a qualification, whilst being paid at the same time.
“An apprenticeship looks really good on your CV, it shows you’re committed to working and learning at the same time, and I really think it makes you stand out from the crowd, especially in the hospitality industry.
“I’ve not only benefitted professionally, but personally too. I lacked confidence as a teenager; I was shy, with very poor social skills. But now I’m a completely different person. I had to learn to communicate with team members, an essential skill when working within the profession.”
Looking to the future, Siôn is already planning his next steps. He added:
“After completing my Level 3 apprenticeship, I’m considering doing a qualification in business management. The dream is that one day, I want to become the chef owner of my own restaurant. I’m going to name it after my grandmother, Sylvia. She’s my inspiration and without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“I once wanted to be a musician, but now I’m mastering the art of culinary instead. Even though my career isn’t what I initially expected, I’m so happy I had the chance to complete an apprenticeship. It gave me the opportunity to consider another career, it allowed me to find my passion and to build my network whilst learning new skills.”
The Welsh Government has committed to creating a further 125,000 apprenticeship places over the next five years.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Apprenticeships are a great opportunity for people of all ages who are looking for their next career challenge to gain job specific skills whilst learning from industry professionals. This is one reason why we have invested a further £18.7 million which will be essential in supporting employers to take on and train new workers, including apprentices and young people.
“There’s a diverse range of apprenticeship opportunities currently available in Wales, from hospitality and construction to digital technology and engineering. Individuals should look at the Apprenticeships Vacancy Service to see what the beginning of their future could be.”
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.