National Apprenticeship Week: The way forward for hospitality

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Premier inn, Hotel

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson got National Apprenticeship Week off to a ‘frying start’, gaining a hands-on experience of hospitality apprenticeships at a budget hotel in the capital.

Johnson was joined by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) at Premier Inn Leicester Square, where he pledged to create 7,000 new hospitality and catering apprenticeship positions in the city by the end of 2016, to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2014​.

Donning chef’s whites, the Mayor got stuck in with two current Premier Inn apprentices to help prepare breakfast for unsuspecting hotel guests and a crowd of national press.

BigHospitality was on hand to capture all of the action, securing an exclusive interview with Johnson about this latest pledge to get more young Londoners into hospitality jobs.

Also interviewed in this video are the BHA’s chief executive Ufi Ibrahim,​ the managing director of Whitebread Hotels & Restaurants Patrick Dempsey​ and the two young apprentices, Hassan and Samantha.

The Government

  • Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

I think apprenticeships are a fantastic way of getting young people into any kind of work. They give people an immediate sense of what it’s like to be in that place of work and they give you all the confidence and skills you need to survive.

Boris Johnson said the apprentices at Premier Inn ‘were having a wonderful time’

The apprentices here at Premier Inn are having a wonderful time – confidence is going up, they can see progression for themselves, they can imagine how they can be team leaders, then operations leaders and so on down the years.

It’s so much better to do that, to be as useful as possible, rather than being in a place of training and waiting and waiting.

The British Hospitality Association has done a fantastic job of championing this and I really congratulate them. And I want thank Premier Inn for coming to the fore and having a programme for 2,000 apprentices by 2016.

London businesses won’t regret it if they join the great movement. They will find that they get young people who are motivated, eager to work and want to progress. It will help them shave their labour costs and build a committed workforce.

The Apprentices

  • Hassan, Premier Inn Leicester Square
Hassan and Sam are currently completing apprenticeship programmes with Premier Inn

Premier Inn gave me the chance to come and work for them. They offered a scheme where you learn while you’re working – it’s not classroom-based. You dio it with yourteam and manager at the hotel. You’re hands-on and you do things as you go along. You can’t learn these things from a text book.

It’s improving us as people as well. The skills we pick up won’t just help us in the hotel, but also outside. It’s helped me a lot and tought me many things and it’s helping us develop and move onto the next step.

  • Samantha, Premier Inn Leicester Square

It’s very active; it’s not like going to university. Right now, the module I’m doing is about how to manage the team and I really like that because that’s what I want to do and I’m improving all the time.

The Employer

  • Patrick Dempsey, MD, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants
Patrick Dempsey says apprenticeships have helped Premier Inn discover the future stars of the hospitality industry

I think it’s a really good idea to do apprenticeships because it increases the confidence of the people that work for you.

We’ve had people who have done a level two apprenticeship programme, now doing a level three going into assistant management. They can work their way up through the organisation – an apprentice at Premier Inn can go right up to an MBA level and I think that’s a fantastic opportunity for kids today.

We want to develop our continue our apprenticeship programme and make sure every single one of our sites – around 700 hotels – has an apprenticeship. We want to grow the work experience, getting kids in from college, and recruit around 1,500 16-24 year olds this year into Premier Inn from that NEAT population.

We want to work with other companies in hospitality through the Big Hospitality Conversation​ to try and grow this across the hospitality sector.

The Industry Body

  • Ufi Ibrahim, CEO, British Hospitality Association
The BHA's Ufi Ibrahim wants other businesses to get involved, get engaged and get more apprentices on-board

Apprenticeships are important, not just for the hospitality industry but for young people. It offers a fantastic route, other than academia, to be able to gather real skills in real time within the workplace, at the same time as ensuring you also have the academic foundation for your development.

The fact that employers are actually stepping into the frame to find apprenticeships as a real way of finding new people and ensuring new innovation and creativity for their businesses – I think it’s extremely exciting and important.

Look at this morning – we had the Mayor of London Boris Johnson coming here to Premier Inn specifically to celebrate the Big Hospitality Conversation​ initiative at the very start of National Apprenticeship Week.

What more could we ask for as a platform to raise awareness to the opportunities to employers to get involved, get engaged and get apprentices into their businesses.

National Apprenticeship Week 2014 takes place from 3-7 March. For more information, click here.

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