What is it like being a pub apprentice?

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Success stories: five pub apprentices explain how they have got stuck into their careers
Success stories: five pub apprentices explain how they have got stuck into their careers

Related tags: Apprenticeship, Greene king, Mitchells & butlers

During National Apprenticeship Week last week (4-9 March), The Morning Advertiser spoke to apprentices in the pub business about their experiences of the industry and their highlights so far.

The apprentices were showcasing their skills​ at an event at Westminster last week. 

Callum Whitehead, is a chef apprentice at Harvester in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, and said he “snapped up the opportunity” as soon as he saw it.


“I saw an advertisement on the company’s Facebook page and applied through that. It was something I wanted to do going through secondary school and jumped into the job very quickly.”

He disagreed with the perception – which MPs and businesses want to see challenged – that a hospitality apprenticeship is not on par with other options for young people like going into higher education.

“I would say they are wrong. You get paid while doing a qualification, you’re getting the best of both worlds out of it, so I think it is definitely worth taking up if you get that opportunity.

“The highlight for me is the new experiences, going in and cooking foods I have never done before and getting the opportunity to work with more experienced chefs and taking on board more knowledge from them.”

'Great opportunity' 

Lee Stein, a chef apprentice at the Merebrook pub in Birkenhead, Merseyside, will begin a Level 3 course this spring after enjoying completing Level 2.


“I heard about the course through [Sizzling Pubs] and it was great, I would recommend it to everybody.”

He enjoyed the versatility of the course and learning new dishes.

“It was really good and I enjoyed going to Watford [for teaching] every month and doing different styles of cooking than I’m used to. It is not necessarily stuff we would be doing in our kitchens.”

“I have relocated so it will be a different school and different tutor for Level 3. It has been a fantastic experience.

“I didn’t do A-levels and can only go by what I have done and I absolutely recommend it to anybody to do it, it is such a great opportunity and been such good experience. Go and do it, I would say.”

Danny Hitchinson, is an apprentice at Harvester in Flamstead, Hertfordshire, and said his experience in the pub business has been very different to other workplaces.


“It is unlike any other industry I have worked in; the camaraderie of the kitchen team when we work together, the adrenaline rush of the business service and the end result.

“I liken it to something like playing a team sport, you have to work as a team and when you win in a team sport, that euphoric feeling you get you can get that at the end of every shift.”

His favourite moment of the course was being invited on to a cooking competition towards the end of the apprenticeship: Mitchells and Butlers’ ‘MABsterchef’.

Hitchinson added: “We had to create a dish and go to a final cook-off, which I won. So my dish was cooked at the Hilton Cosmopolitan for all the general managers at the company’s restaurant division.

“That was an amazing experience, where I got up on stage at the end.”

Businesses have been urged to use up their funding before it expires.
Businesses have been urged to use up their funding before it expires.

Team effort

Daniel Scott, is undergoing for his second apprenticeship with Greene King as a Craft Academy brewing apprentice.


“I was already working for Greene King at the time I got involved in this course and this is actually my second apprenticeship with the company. I was first employed as a marketing and sales apprentice and it was quite a hybrid role so it had marketing, sales and brewing involved but it wasn’t specifically training brewing.

“Then a new brewing apprenticeship was developed while I was doing that, so I am now doing this Level 4 course.

“How this apprenticeship works is that it is done in a cohort so it is me and ten others who go up to Nottingham once a month and we stay for two days at their brewing school. Every time we go, there is a highlight.

“I would say go for it. I think there is value in all sort of education, whether that is vocational or something more traditional. Don’t rule anything out.”

'True passion'

Abigail Butterfield, a Fuller’s apprentice at the Red Lion in Chalton, Hampshire, is on a commis chef apprenticeship, which matches her passion for cooking.


"I went online to the gov.uk website and followed the links to get an interview, at which I spoke about my passion for cooking and how it came to me.

"The way I found my passion was through a Prince’s Trust course and they helped me find my true passion.

"I am hoping to go on to do the chef de partie, the next level up. Then, hopefully, I will be able to make my way up to head chef.

"A highlight would be learning lots of different recipes and the experience to be able to explore my talents and recognise a bit more about the company as well."

Speaking after the event, Jeremy Scorer, principal of the HIT Hospitality Academy said there was still work to be done bridging the gap on employers’ understanding.

He spoke of the benefits of an apprentice working for a pub business and said: “What the apprenticeship model brings is an expertise in the form of a professional trainer to their organization on a regular basis.”

Related topics: Training

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