The apprenticeship opportunity

By Simon Tarr, chief executive, People 1st

- Last updated on GMT

apprenticeship opportunities

Related tags Apprenticeship Employment

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been exploring the potential staffing crisis facing hospitality businesses, and the ways in which businesses can improve productivity and retention to offset rising costs. Today, in my final article, I’ll be looking at the new hospitality apprenticeship standards, the first of which went live in April. 

We believe they provide a huge opportunity for the pub and casual dining sector to raise professionalism and demonstrate the fantastic career pathways it has to offer, and are committed to working with employers to ensure they are fit for purpose.

Two years ago, the government put apprenticeships in the hands of employers for the first time. It asked them to come together to develop new apprenticeship ‘standards’ that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours apprentices need to be fully competent in their roles.

People 1st​ worked on behalf of employers across the industry to develop seven new hospitality standards, which range from commis chef to hospitality manager. Apprentices have to prove that they have the full range of skills for their job, as defined by businesses in the new standards. This is in contrast to ‘picking and mixing’ from a range of qualifications – an approach which can lead to skills gaps.

At the same time, the new standards give businesses the flexibility and control to choose how best to train their apprentices – something which has previously been prescribed and not always the best business solution. That means employers have the option to integrate their in-house training into the apprenticeship, use qualifications of their choice or do a mixture of both.

The clear progression pathways that the new apprenticeships offer will not only enable apprentices to excel in their role, but also take on new and exciting challenges and progress into future management and leadership positions. Importantly, they help staff feel valued, invested in, and ultimately more likely to stay with your business.

We also recognise that some pub companies believe the standards could further support their staff training if aspects were further aligned to the industry’s job roles. People 1st​ is therefore working closely with employer representatives, BII, ALMR and BBPA to investigate this and is committed to working collaboratively to achieve the best possible solution for the licensed hospitality sector.

It’s critical that apprenticeships are right for your business, so all employers are encouraged to take part in this process. If you would like to be involved, please contact us via our website​.

Having employer-defined standards in place can make hospitality a much more attractive career option for school and college leavers, and help change the misconceptions that many young people, their teachers, parents and carers have about the industry not offering rewarding career opportunities. In addition, 80% of companies who invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention, and a hospitality apprentice can improve the bottom line by an average of £5,200.

Companies like Mitchells and Butlers and Greene King are already seeing great benefits from apprenticeships, and we are working with other pub companies to explore how they can get on board with the new standards.

With the apprenticeship levy due to kick in next April, this is the time for employers that haven’t had much, or any, involvement with apprenticeships to start seriously thinking about what they mean for their business. It’s an investment that you can’t afford to ignore.

If we, as an industry, embrace the new standards, and work together, the skills and staffing shortages that have plagued us for years could well become a thing of the past.

About People 1st

People 1st​ is the leading workforce development expert for the hospitality, passenger transport, travel, tourism and retail industries. Our specialist products and services help businesses develop their employees’ skills and expertise, so they can improve retention, productivity and profitability. For more information, visit

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