The week has a ‘Blaze a Trail’ theme and is aimed at challenging the idea that a hospitality apprenticeship is not a viable career option for school leavers, as well as celebrating achievements.
It comes as the industry braces itself for an increasing recruitment crisis, with many businesses anxious about the impact of post-Brexit immigration and the perception of the sector not passing ‘the parent test’.
Employers are hoping to address some of these anxieties and hesitance during National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), as well as celebrate the contributions and achievements of their staff.
To mark the week, pubco Greene King said its research showed more than half of Brits (63%) of Brits would consider an apprenticeship as a more useful start to their career than a university degree.
Steve Perez, chairman of Global Brands drinks company said apprenticeships offered an “invaluable” experience to the next generation of the licensed trade.
He said: “The world of hospitality, and drinks in particular, is so fast-paced. You need to be able to stay ahead of what people want and keep innovating.
“Being in the thick of the action is a great starting point for understanding this. It helps people learn first-hand about the sector and what’s needed to succeed.
“Apprenticeships are invaluable in this sense. They provide people with a solid grounding to grow and create their own opportunities.”
Apprenticeships, Education and Skills Funding Agency director Keith Smith said the ‘blaze a trail’ theme links to the Government’s new national apprenticeship campaign – Fire It Up.
He urged businesses to participate in the week: “With your help, we can make more of a noise about apprenticeships during NAW2019 and using some of these resources – uniting on social channels, in media opportunities and at events – we can really showcase the benefits apprenticeships have on individuals, employers, communities and the wider economy.”
Exciting and innovative
MPs will speak to apprentices and their employers at a House of Commons event this week (Wednesday 6 March).
British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said it was crucial for apprenticeships to be viewed as a valuable career path.
“Nearly all members of the BBPA pay the apprenticeship levy and most have exciting and innovative apprenticeship schemes for their existing employees and to encourage new talent so vital to the future success of the pub trade," she said.
"We now have a hospitality board for apprenticeships that allows us to discuss with Government how the scheme can be improved and be made less bureaucratic.
"The Government has shown it has clear support for our sector, and National Apprenticeship Week allows pubs and the wider hospitality sector to demonstrate what a great industry we have and what more we can do to recruit and retain great teams.”
Employers are keen to share their apprentice success stories throughout the week.
Wendy, deputy manager of the Lord Raglan pub in Holborn, central London, said her life changed when, after a period of homelessness, she applied for a job at a pub nearby her hostel.
She said: “I was at rock bottom. I lost my job and couldn’t afford to pay the rent. I ended up having to give most of my possessions to charity and was sleeping on the streets with just one suitcase to my name.
“I felt very vulnerable. At night, I’d try and sleep in a churchyard, keeping one eye open because it was so scary. I spent the days at the local job centre sat at a computer looking for jobs.
“Then I managed to get a place in a hostel. There was a Greene King pub nearby and I saw an advert for staff in the window. I got the job and soon the landlord was encouraging me to go on their apprenticeship scheme.
“Suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel and I haven’t looked back. That was four years ago and I now have my own place to call home.
“The next step is I want my own pub. I am very driven. I had a meeting with some of my bosses the other week and they asked me about my career progression. I told them, ‘I want your jobs next!’”