Hospitality industry leaders are calling on the government to “throw a protective ring” around apprenticeships funding and youth employment in the sector, in order to make the training and development of the future hospitality workforce a “cornerstone of the recovery”.
Leaders from a cross-section of the industry, including charities, trade bodies, training companies, chefs, and business leaders have now written to government ministers urging them to work with them to secure apprenticeship funding.
The industry said the move can play a “key part” in rebuilding career pathways, helping the sector to “emerge once again” as a major employer and trainer of young adults.
Hospitality leaders have warned that there is now a risk that funding from the Apprenticeship Levy will “time out and be lost”. In light of this, they want to ensure that existing apprenticeships, suspended due to the pandemic, can be completed and allow companies to continue to access the funding.
They have also called for a 12-month freeze on the expiry of all Apprenticeship Levy funding for businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector, to reflect the limitations the sector has faced over the past year.
The letter, which was sent to key ministers at the Treasury, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “As we look forward to rebuilding our businesses, our people, including apprentices, will be at the heart of our plans, and we have a track record on increasing apprenticeship starts each year since 2015.
“However, for us to be able to do this fully we need maximum access to the funds we have continued to pay through the Apprenticeship Levy. Over the last year of lockdowns and restrictions we have simply been unable to spend the levy funds on our apprenticeship programmes. These funds are now at risk of expiring and being lost to the purpose for which they were intended – upskilling the UK workforce.”
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, said: “In the flux of lockdown and as ministers plot the recovery, we need to ensure that the funding for a major success story over the past five years – apprenticeships in hospitality – is not allowed to simply time out or ebb away.
“This industry employs an enormous number of young people – a third of our workforce is 18-24 and almost a further third is aged 25-34. We are calling on government to help us defend the development and training of our workforce and our business leaders of the future. As we build the recovery we need to maximise the opportunities our sector can offer and work with government to drive employment and boost careers, and upskill a generation.”