Ahead of the Week, which is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc came together with London Mayor Boris Johnson to encourage more hospitality businesses to recruit apprentices.
And when the week kicked off on Monday, BigHospitality reported that a number of big businesses, including The River Cottage, Spirit, Premier Inn, Accor and Travelodge had already become involved with apprenticeship pledges of their own.
Hospitality apprentices were then recognised last night by Lib Dem leader Clegg, at a ‘Made by Apprentices’ reception held within Admiralty House.
Catering and hospitality apprentices from Charnwood Training Group, Compass, De Vere Hospitality Academy, Greene King and Spirit Pub Company were all recognised at the event, having provided savoury and sweet canapés as well as serving Clegg and other VIPs.
At the Made by Apprentices event, Clegg, said: “Apprentices not only make an invaluable contribution to their employer, but to the economy as a whole.
“We’ve seen a record number of businesses clamouring to take on apprentices and that’s because they know what a huge difference the talent and ambition they bring can make. We’re also making it simple and rewarding for companies to take on apprentices – from mechanics to the hospitality trade."
Over the past week the National Apprenticeship Service released a number of reports documenting the value and popularity of Apprenticeships in England – most notably, a report on Monday which estimated that apprentices estimated would contribute 3.4bn a year to the economy a year by 2022.
Yesterday, the UK's largest budget hotel operator Premier Inn announced plans to provide 500 apprenticeships this year.
The announcement was made at the official opening of Premier Inn’s 650th hotel at Waterloo by Employment Minister Mark Hoban and Whitbread Chairman, Anthony Habgood.
Whitbread & Admiral
Patrick Dempsey, managing director of Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, said: “Whitbread has a long history of helping young people further their careers through apprenticeships, indeed 250 years ago, our founder Sam Whitbread started out in business on a seven-year brewing apprenticeship.
“It’s tough in today’s climate for young people to get into the workplace and find a job that offers them a chance to get on. We have a target of recruiting half of all our new employees from the long-term unemployed."
Meanwhile, tenanted pub group Admiral Taverns has this week reported strong demand from its licensees for an apprenticeship programme it created in concert with Charnwood Training Group.
More than 60 of Admiral’s licensees have already set the ball rolling by identifying suitable candidates for the programme, with many more expected to follow suit in the coming weeks and months.
Suzanne Smith, head of licensee recruitment and training at Admiral Taverns, said: “It’s still early days for Admiral apprenticeships, and rather than adopting a scatter-gun approach we have targeted our most appropriate licensees – those with larger teams and with businesses that would benefit most from the apprenticeship scheme.
"Nevertheless, we’re delighted to have received such strong interest from our licensees and expect this momentum to build further as word spreads across the business."
National Apprenticeship Week has also caught on with fast-food giants KFC and McDonalds.
KFC celebrated the Week by announcing it will be rolling out its Intermediate Apprenticeship scheme to all of its team members, with over 3,000 members of staff now able to study for the City & Guilds-accredited qualification, which is the equivalent of five GCSEs.
James Watts, Vice President of Human Resources, KFC UK & Ireland, said: “The Apprenticeship Programme is an integral part of our learning and development package, and offering intermediate apprenticeships to 3,000 team members emphasises our commitment to getting all of our training accredited.
“Apprenticeships really help prepare our people for career progression, and we’re looking forward to seeing many more employees develop at KFC in 2013.”
Meanwhile Sue Husband, the National Education Manager at McDonald’s UK, highlighted the company’s on-going support for young people through its apprenticeship qualifications.
“With so many young people struggling to get a foot on the career ladder at the moment it’s more important than ever that companies like ours offer not just great training, but the chance to gain nationally-recognised qualifications like apprenticeships while people work,” said Husband.
“Since 2009, almost 15,000 apprentices have gained an apprenticeship qualification while working at McDonald’s and its fantastic to see the difference an apprenticeship makes to people. Not only does it boosts their confidence and change the way they approach their work it also helps them out of work, for example it can increase their long-term employability or give them extra confidence in managing their household bills.
“Providing apprenticeships also benefits our business because when our employees are engaged and motivated, they serve our customers even better. That’s good news for the hospitality sector as well.”
As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, employers and colleges are being encouraged to follow suit by getting their apprentices to make their mark on the goods or services they produce and post their pictures via Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest using the hashtags #Madebyapprentices and #NAW2013. The best images will be featured on the Prime Minister’s Pinterest Page and the National Apprenticeship Service will continue to promote ‘made by apprentices’ throughout the year.