The hospitality sector has a variety of exciting and challenging apprenticeship programmes for those interested in a career working in a dynamic and fast-paced industry.
The vast majority of hotels provide a range of different services to guests and customers, and can therefore offer a range of promising opportunities for potential apprentices – everything from catering and communications to event management. The industry is particularly appealing to apprentices due to its good long-term prospects and excellent scope for progression.
Much has been made of the skills shortage in the UK, and hotels are finding it difficult to recruit the right people with the necessary skills they need to fill their existing vacancies and drive the business forward. Taking on an apprentice solves this problem. Apprentices are young, enthusiastic and eager to learn, and hoteliers are able to train them to fill a specific role.
Positive Outcomes offers a range of qualifications that are suitable to the hospitality sector. From a hospitality qualification itself, which covers specific requirements in food production, food services, accommodation services and front of house, to customer service qualifications, business administration, event management and leadership. There are many options out there to suit a full range of hotel staff positions.
Hotels, like many other businesses, have been quick to recognise the benefits of hiring apprentices. Re-skilling and upskilling, in particular, are of massive importance to hoteliers, and apprenticeships have proven not only to be a great way of developing new staff, but improving existing staff also. By offering and investing in apprenticeship programmes, hotels not only offer young people the chance to forge a career in the hospitality sector, but they can develop a strong workforce that has the necessary skills and, as a result, can make a positive contribution to their bottom line.
This view was supported in a report conducted last year by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CBRE). The CBRE found that, on average, apprentices in the hospitality and catering industry delivered a positive net gain of £5,896 per annum to employers. In comparison, the average per annum net gain for hiring apprentices across England was found to be £1,670, which, while still a substantial figure, serves to highlight the added potential for hospitality apprenticeships.
At Positive Outcomes, as an organisation that has worked with apprentices for over 20 years, we have found that it is best for businesses to have in-place a structured and well-planned apprenticeship programme.
Apprenticeships give hotels the chance to play an active role in shaping their workforce and tailoring their skills so that they fit the business’s specific requirements. Investing in apprentices is a cost-effective way for hotels to grow talent, improve their workforce and create a dedicated and committed staff. Apprentices are also able to learn from the best practices of established staff, while employers are able to take charge of polishing the “soft-skills” needed to thrive in the hospitality industry.
It’s important to note that there has been a positive shift in the perception of apprenticeships over the last few years, with many young people now pursuing apprenticeships rather than considering higher education and university. They have fast become the go-to option for those looking to begin their career in a particular industry, as they offer the opportunity to both earn and learn.
We have seen a surge in demand for apprenticeships throughout 2016 – statistics released by the House of Commons earlier this year reported that there were 492,700 young people starting apprenticeship programmes, an increase of 12% compared with the previous year. This follows on from the government’s pledge to create three million more apprenticeships by the year 2020.
It is important that hotels view apprentices as a long-term investment, both in terms of their development and their contribution to the business.
Although there is a small upfront cost when hiring apprentices, there are subsidies available in the form of government grants. This is something we hope will be made clear upon the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, which comes into effect in Spring 2017. All employers, both those required to pay into the levy and those that are exempt, will be able to benefit from additional payments, including £1,000 when they take on and train apprentices aged 16 to 18.
This is of particular importance to hotels, as the government will cover the full-training costs of apprentices between the ages of 16 to 18 years old, for businesses with less than 50 employees. This also extends to 19 to 24 year olds that have been in some form of care or have an education or healthcare plan.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the core aims of the apprenticeship levy are to, one, help develop young people and, two – crucially – to help develop businesses themselves. The UK has a much-publicised skills shortage, and the levy is just one of the tools aimed at fixing that, while apprenticeships themselves offer a much bigger part of the solution.
Our apprentices are all work-based, performing tasks and taking on roles that directly contribute to the business, all the while developing skills beneficial to both themselves and their employer.
This feature first appeared in the January 2017 issue of Hotel Owner.