The highlight of the Week, which ran from 3-7 March, was perhaps the overwhelming support given to apprenticeships by London Mayor Boris Johnson, who said 'they are a fantastic way of getting young people into any kind of work'.
And earlier this week, the Chancellor George Osborne pledged further support in his 2014 Budget announcement; revealing that the Government will extend the grant for small businesses to support 100,000 more apprenticeships over the coming year.
So, BigHospitality has rounded up some of the latest pledged from hospitality businesses across the country, to prove that apprenticeships work.
Lancaster London has just appointed six new apprentices as part of the four-star luxury hotel's annual Apprenticeship Programme.
Two of the new apprentices will be positioned in front office & reservations, while four will be trained in events, restaurants & bars. The apprentices will be commencing their one-year programme this month.
Lancaster London aimed to recruit four apprentices. But on the selection days the assessors were so impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of all the candidates, they decided to employ all six applicants.
The aim of the Apprenticeship Programme is to give individuals the opportunity to become fully trained as food & beverage attendants within the events, restaurants & bars department; or fully trained reservations agents and front of house guest service agents.
Meanwhile, Henley pub operator and brewer Brakspear has appointed its first ever apprentice, Henry Engbers, who has joined as a trainee chef in the Bull on Bell Street - the company’s managed pub in Henley-on-Thames.
Engbers, 19, comes with an impressive record of food and hospitality experience, having worked as a trainee chef at River Cottage. He is enrolled on a 12-month Apprenticeship in Hospitality & Catering at Henley College, where he will spend one day each month studying.
Matt Aket, Brakspear’s operations manager, said: “Like all food-led pubs, we want to attract the best talent into our kitchens and apprenticeships offer us a way to develop young, enthusiastic students into skilled chefs. We hope to take on other apprentices, both at the Bull and at our other managed site, the Royalist in Stow-on-the-Wold.”
Engbers’ training at the Bull will be overseen by head chef Rob Chasteauneuf.
Hotel La Tour
Into the north of England and a former University College Birmingham student has become the first graduate of the new management training programme from Hotel La Tour.
Leah Williams, 25, joined the opening team at the luxury four-star hotel as a part-time waitress in March 2012. She took up a full-time position at the Birmingham city centre hotel after she graduated with a BA in Hospitality Business Management in June and was quickly identified for her leadership potential.
Now she has cause for a double celebration – becoming the first employee to graduate from Hotel La Tour’s management training programme and winning promotion as a conference and events executive.
“Before the training programme, I would have described myself as feisty and hot-headed,” said Williams. “I have learned that’s not always the most effective way to be and have learnt a lot from working with different managers, who each have their own style.”
Leah has now set her sights on becoming a general manager by the time she is 30 and has a bright future with the independent Hotel La Tour, which aims to build a number of venues over the next five years.
Walk the talk
Last year, the British Hospitality Association's chief executive Ufi Ibrahim told hospitality businesses across the UK that they must ‘walk the talk’ when it comes to job creation by making more opportunities available to young people if they want to receive more support from the Government in other areas.
During National Apprenticeship Week, BigHospitality aught up with Ibrahim, who explained that apprenticeships now have a huge role to play; not just for the hospitality industry but for young people in general.
"They offer 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," she said.
"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."