Opinion

‘Apprenticeships can shape the future development of the hospitality industry’

By Jill Whittaker, managing director, HIT Training

- Last updated on GMT

Vital role: ‘With better incentives for employers on offer, now is the time to invest in upskilling the industry for a brighter tomorrow’
Vital role: ‘With better incentives for employers on offer, now is the time to invest in upskilling the industry for a brighter tomorrow’

Related tags: Training, Staff, Funding, Apprenticeship, Coronavirus, Government

The hospitality sector hasn’t been able to perform to its fullest potential for over a year now, and as we begin our transition out of the lockdown phases, we’re going to see a huge surge in demand.

Whether it be going to our favourite restaurants, to a café or down the pub with friends, consumer appetite for dining out will be at a high. 

However, with many of those in hospitality losing their jobs, and others looking for careers outside of the sector in a bid to guarantee financial security, the industry has taken a serious hit. 

Research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS​) has shown that to date, hospitality accounts for more than 50% of total unemployment figures since the beginning of the first lockdown in March 2020. 

With a large decline in workforce numbers such as this, we could experience a deficit of highly skilled workers within the industry. It is clear that in a time like this, we need to regain vital skills needed for the hospitality sector to meet the demand that will be present once we resume post-pandemic life.

Apprenticeships play a vital role in helping to develop and progress key skills for hospitality professionals. By offering employees the opportunity to quickly learn and develop skills on the job, while being paid for their work, apprenticeships are a great alternative to other training methods which can be more time-consuming and costly. 

Changes to the level of Government support

There has been positive news for apprenticeships with the Chancellor of the Exchequer announcing additional funding for employers within his Spring Budget​.

From 1 ​April 2021, incentive grants will double from £1,500 to £3,000 per apprentice, as well as the Government injecting a £126m investment into traineeships. 

This increase in the incentive grant should appeal to employers, who will be able to train up their apprentices on the job to gain the qualifications and further their skills enabling them to excel in their area of work. 

During the Budget announcement, Rishi Sunak mentioned: “As the economy begins to recover, we are shifting our resources and focus towards people getting into decent, well-paid jobs”, highlighting the Government’s view on the efficacy and success of apprenticeships. 

However, there has been a change to the way in which employers can reserve funding for apprenticeships. This process now takes place online, using an apprenticeship service account​. 

The new process for funding apprenticeships

From 1 ​April 2020, non-levy paying employers have had to reserve funding for apprenticeships in advance. 

Before this date, if you wanted to start an apprentice, it was a simple matter of working with a training provider that had a contract for the delivery of non-levy apprenticeships, and the provider took care of the funding. Now you will need to take action each time you wish to recruit a new apprentice or put an existing member of staff on an apprenticeship.

The Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) ​now ​requires ​employers to reserve the funding needed for training and assessment, and this can be done up to six months in advance. 

Starting from 1 April 2021, reservation levels have been be reset to zero and employers have been able to make up to 10 new reservations for the financial year 2021-22. This gives employers certainty that the Government will pay for their apprenticeship training. 

The new online process may add a layer of complexity for some hospitality employers, who may not have the time for additional administration now the industry is finally opening once more. In these circumstances, help is on hand as training providers can be given permission to reserve funding on behalf of an employer – giving them one less thing to worry about. 

Ensuring a bright future for hospitality

Apprenticeships are not only cost effective but have been proven to encourage employee retention and engagement in their work. 

With the variety of skills gained through an apprenticeship, workers aren’t limited to a niche role, but can benefit from gaining a broad spectrum of transferable skills with wide appeal to employers. 

By offering real work-life experience, and earning potential along the way, apprenticeships can shape the future development of the hospitality industry, which is more important than ever. 

With better incentives for employers on offer, now is the time to invest in upskilling the industry for a brighter tomorrow. 

Related topics: Training

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