By Denis Sheehan, Publisher, H&C News
Wednesday 24th November saw hospitality and catering people from across our industry meet to discuss apprenticeships and their role in reducing the people and skills crisis in hospitality and catering.
The meeting set off at pace, followed by 90 minutes of relentless debate. A deep passion for our industry was evident, as was knowledge the role of apprenticeships will need to play in hospitality and catering’s reset.
In serving in part as a solution to short, medium, and long term people and skills shortages the requirement to adopt apprenticeships and initiate the solution process delegates agreed is here and now.
The facilitator of discussions, Jo Simovic, COO, Umbrella Training asked questions of the delegate attendees that were not only thought provoking, but demanding of considered answers. The answers initially were somewhat measured but very quickly shed any reluctance to be specific and became forthright, acknowledging the gravitas of the agenda in progress.
Many delegates spoke of the changes seen by their business since the pandemic first struck, people in all roles and at every level had left the respective businesses, and replacing them had proved difficult or unachieved to date.
Individually many different examples were cited, and collectively they grew to become a representative cross section of our industry.
Industry Perception and Experience
Perceptions, particularly those of parents came in early with delegates emphasising the need for hospitality to be present and ‘showcased’ in schools providing positive experiences young people can attach to hospitality.
Adele Oxberry, Chief Executive, Umbrella Training outlined the Association of Employment and Learning Providers report showing a 45% decrease in apprenticeships participation at level 2 as the apprenticeships levy is driving employer spend to the more senior programmes.
Oxberry underlined the need for Level 2 apprenticeships being key in recruitment strategy to attract the next generation into hospitality and catering.
Clear opportunities for career progression following through the apprenticeship experience was highlighted by Steve Rockey, HR Director, Homegrown and Limewood Hotels Group. Rockey explained how career progression is woven into their apprenticeships supporting the group’s entire organisation development plans. It was set out as a logical strategic and tactical path many others could follow.
There was also much discussion around how levy payers could, and need to, consider spending more of their levy on entry/novice level apprentices, rather than leadership programmes. Some saying of their degree level apprenticeships being brilliant but expensive, suggesting investing the same in new employees would garner higher returns. The focus on many occasions returning to the need to find, develop and ready the next generation of the hospitality family to ensure sustainable and profitable businesses.
Schools, education, and young people
Simovic stressed the need for government to embrace the Eat and Learn initiative within the National Food strategy. An opportunity to make schools accountable for promoting food and nutrition in a positive way. Citing the pandemic as a further driver of rising child poverty levels across the UK, where schools have been at the heart of feeding children.
Oxberry urged government to adopt 5 keys aims to support education in hospitality:
- Curriculum Changes – to support a stronger academic route with the re-introduction of the A level in food to fit alongside T Levels and other vocations programmes.
- Accreditation of Schools – schools to demonstrate a whole food approach with a ‘food for life’ accreditation, and with a key judgement area on how schools spend their food funds.
- Inspection – Food and Nutrition – to be assessed by Ofsted the same way as Maths and English with a deciphering grade towards the final grading.
- Funding – double the funding to buy better ingredients.
- Recruitment and Training – Teachers to be trained on the curriculum and for teaching training on food to be re-instated.
What was apparent, and very much so, is the ongoing need for more vocational training, better vocational training, and for vocational training to be at the very heart of all hospitality business’s organisational development plans.
What was also very apparent is for the need of employers experiencing people and skills shortages to speak with providers of apprenticeships and investigate how apprenticeships can alleviate some of those difficulties in the short, medium, and long term.
Having spent a few hours in discussion with Jo Simovic and Adele Oxberry alongside many of the hospitality businesses they work with, I would suggest they are a great starting point.
Please contact: Jo Simovic, Chief Operating Officer, Umbrella Training firstname.lastname@example.org