More than 90% of leading hospitality figures believe the Government needs to be doing more to promote apprenticeships, according to a poll taken at an Umbrella Training conference held in London this week.
The conference, titled ‘Combating the skills and labor gap in a post Brexit society’, brought together leading figures from across the hotels, Clubs, restaurant and foodservice sectors to discuss the key challenges facing the industry over the next few years.
Attendees were surveyed on a number of significant issues, largely focused on how the sector can tackle its perennial skills shortages – expected to be exasperated should Britain withdraw from the European Union.
More than 60 HR directors & managers, learning and development managers and specialists, recruitment managers, general managers and chief executives all came together to discuss issues ranging from how to engage the next generation, finding innovative solutions to skills shortages, and how to support new talent pipelines.
With the Government initially committing to creating three million apprenticeships by 2020, experts from the sector signalled that more needs to be done to encourage businesses and individuals to consider apprenticeships as part of their succession planning.
It’s ‘Fire It Up’ campaign which included adverts on TV, radio and billboards, buses and bus stops, was welcomed by the sector but it is widely believed that it hasn’t gone far enough.
It has also introduced the Gatsby benchmarks, which are a framework of eight guidelines that define the best careers provision in schools and colleges. Apprenticeships play a key role within this.
According to a recent report in FE Week, figures for February 2019 showed 25,300 starts, 16 per cent more than the 21,800 provisional starts published at the same time last year. The report also stated that an average of nearly 90,000 starts per month are required for the remaining months to achieve the target set by the Government.
Sam Coulstock, business relations director, Umbrella Training, said: “We have seen some major movement by the government to encourage uptake of apprenticeships but the overwhelming view is that more needs to be done to promote the benefits of apprenticeships.
“In particular, more needs to be done by the government to help educate parents and schools on the benefits of taking up apprenticeships. This two groups can be the most influential when helping to shape a young person’s future. Without a strong focus on working with them, there is always going to be a challenge to engage young people into these sorts of developmental roles. We have seen some improvements but there is still such a long way to go.”
The survey also found that a large proportion of senior leaders within the sector (35%) saw apprenticeships as a key driver in developing their succession plans – helping to mitigate against the recruitment challenges the sector is facing.
Paresh Vara, talent development programme manager at PPHE Hotel Group, said: “We see apprenticeships as a key part of our talent management strategy. It is embedded at every level within the group as we are well aware of the need to invest in our talent for today and tomorrow. The current challenges the sector faces can, in part, be tackled by utilising the benefits that apprentices can bring.”
Robert Richardson, general manager, The Grand at Folkestone, added: “The Umbrella Conference confirmed what we’ve long suspected; that apprenticeships are not just a key driver in our businesses succession plans, but an invaluable way to counter the recruitment challenges currently faced by our industry.”
Almost half (44%) also added that it is important for providers to offer quality training programmes as part of their approach to developing apprentices.