The group has also increased its food margins by 1.8% thanks to a recruitment boost across its estate.
Stonegate apprenticeship manager Jemelle Bish said the company was determined to take full advantage of the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.
She said: “In 2017, when the government levy went live, our apprenticeship provisions were already bedded into the company.
“However, we used the levy as an opportunity to fine-tune our strategy and used the government changes to create corporate standards.”
It comes at a time where the industry is struggling to recruit and retain chefs. Around 20,000 chefs leave the job each year in the UK, but fewer choose to enter the profession, according to a report from the Centre for London think-tank.
Bish continued: “The industry as a whole tends to struggle with recruitment and retention when it comes to back-of-house roles.
“The competition is tough, chefs are always in demand, and a lot of the time they chose alternative roles. The success of the chef apprenticeship programme has been seen at all levels.”
She added: “We had already experienced great success with our apprenticeship programme, with more than 2,000 learners achieving their qualification and knowing the success of apprenticeships to our business and we saw this as a real opportunity to turn our focus to a key area of development needed, namely our kitchen workforce of 2,600 employees.”
The improvement in food margin means that the apprenticeship levy investment has been repaid many times over for the company.
Stonegate’s apprenticeship scheme is an extension of its development programme called Albert’s Theory of Progression, which covers all back-of-house, front-of-house and management roles.
Fiona Hawkesley, national accounts director at Stonegate’s training provider Remit Group said the organisation wanted to maximise benefits from the levy.
She added: “It has been very rewarding to work alongside Stonegate in developing its innovative programmes for chefs, which have reaped tangible rewards both for the business and for colleagues, and we are very proud to be a key partner in realising these successes.”