Apprenticeships help plug hospitality skills gap, says Whitbread head of education

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Hospitality employers should use an apprenticeship strategy to support the sector’s future growth, according to Whitbread head of education Sandra Kelly.

Speaking to HR Magazine following an event on hospitality careers run by education charity, Believe in Young People and the Virgin-owned restaurant, Babylon, Kelly said there is “evidence that shows investing in a structured apprenticeship programme can have a significantly positive impact”.

Using Premier Inn (which is owned by Whitbread) as an example she said: "Employees who were previously apprentices are 45% less likely to leave the organisation than non-apprentices. The commitment demonstrated by the company through the investment in apprenticeships is mirrored by the commitment of those apprentices."

She added that it is vital employers in the hospitality sector implement strategies to “develop and train their employees to support the future success of the individuals as well as the future growth of the sector".

Believe in Young People is working with hospitality brands Whitbread, Hilton and Babylon to provide young people with work-based learning opportunities. It supports 300,000 young people and has placed 4,000 young people in to job opportunities in the past year.

The charity’s CEO Tanja Kuveljic said the approach “allows young people to live and breathe the sector so they can make informed decisions about their career choice”.

Babylon restaurant manager Peter Avis said there is a need for more ambassadors in sectors such as hospitality, retail and construction.

“There are great job opportunities out there that don't require employees to have degrees, but they need to be shown as great careers," he said. "We, as employers, have a responsibility to young people to give them these opportunities.”

He added: "Don't underestimate what young people can do for your business. It’s easy to get to a certain point in your career and forget what it is like to be that young person. They can bring the best ideas, passion and enthusiasm. A lot of employers need to recognise that young people are the future of their business."

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