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Itsu: Partner with experts to make the most of levy

Jo Davis, group HR director at Itsu, explains how to get the most from your apprenticeship levy

HR directors should partner with training experts to get the most out their apprenticeship levy fund, according to Jo Davis, group HR director at British Asian-inspired café chain Itsu.

“You don’t have to go it alone,” Davis told HR magazine. “Instead, meet a few providers, and get a sense of whether they understand your business. Identify the right partner for your organisation, and let them use their expertise to help you.”

An employer can become a training provider if they want to deliver in-house training only, or they can choose to work with an external training provider. An employer can decide how much input they want into the training, whether it will all be external or some in-house.

This year Itsu has launched a new general management apprenticeship with the first year open to 28 up and coming managers.

“We looked at our development programme, and felt that what we had for our most junior team members was already well established,” Davis explained. “Instead, we wanted to find a way to develop our shop managers. We wanted to help them to develop a broader set of skills, so they could potentially take up roles as operational managers or people managers in the future.”

The training programme has been designed in partnership with national training provider Remit Group. Sue Pittock, chief executive officer at Remit Group, said the firm was delighted to be supporting Itsu. “Through recognising the benefits apprenticeships can offer, Itsu's team will benefit from key leadership skills and qualifications to help them develop personally and enhance their career pathways," she said.

The successful applicants will undertake an apprenticeship lasting 12 months, with 80% of their time spent on the job, and 20% at Itsu’s learning facility in Holborn, London.

“I advise other firms to start small like we have,” Davis added. “We are using our first cohort as guinea pigs to see how they get on with the programme. Once we know exactly how it works, we are hoping to expand it to take in more junior team members.”

Davis said she had high hopes for the first graduates. “We’re planning to open our first shops in New York shortly,” she said. “We want to give our very best managers the opportunity to work there, so we are hoping this programme equips our people with the skills they would need to cope with this.”