Jill Whittaker, Managing Director at HIT Training (www.hittraining.co.uk), explores the value of apprenticeships in hospitality.

“There’s no doubt the Coronavirus pandemic has sparked big changes in the world of work, but among the most significant was ‘The Great Resignation’ of 2021. This historic trend saw workers around the world quit their jobs in record numbers and exacerbated the challenges already faced by the hospitality sector when it comes to recruitment and retention.

Employers can no longer rely on a steady stream of job candidates, while employees are questioning their career choices and work-life balance. They want to try new things, to upskill and reskill, and to have their value recognised.

The focus for employers in 2022 must be on retaining the talented individuals they have, while offering clear career pathways that are attractive to people coming into their industry.

Businesses no longer have the luxury of relying on a revolving door of candidates; you must invest in your people.

This is where apprenticeships come in.

Flexible training

Apprenticeships continue to play an invaluable role in helping to unlock stills quickly and to allow motivated staff to fast track into positions where they can provide real value.

This process is set to get even faster under new working patterns currently being considered by the Government. For example, ‘front-loading’ is a new approach that offers focused, intensive training at the start of an apprenticeship, covering all the key skills and technical knowledge needed.

Front-loaded training could prove invaluable in helping apprentices to hit the ground running and make a real contribution to their workplaces from the very start. As a sector facing crippling staff shortages, this could prove invaluable for hospitality operators.

Also under consideration is the introduction of ‘accelerated apprenticeships’, which allow an employer to reduce the length of an apprenticeship for individuals who already possess relevant skills and knowledge. For example, someone with a background in customer service wouldn’t need such intensive training in this area before taking on a front of house role.

As well as potentially saving money for employers, these flexible approaches could offer a more tailored approach to training that helps address the specific skills shortages they’re facing.

Myth busting

While apprenticeships can offer significant value to employers and employees, some common prevailing myths could be preventing both from seeing the benefits.

For example, it’s often perceived that apprenticeships pay poorly and offer limited career opportunities, but that simply isn’t the case. Similarly, apprenticeships have traditionally been viewed as an option for school leavers just about to embark on their working lives. But there’s no age limit and apprenticeships are an ideal way for people at any stage in life to reskill or to build on the skills they already have – whether they’re new to hospitality or want to progress further.

Change is on the horizon, and the flexible training models currently being explored are set to have a big impact on both individuals and employers. And people of all ages and levels of experiences are starting to see the opportunities available to them.

After last year’s wave of resignations and staff shortages, let’s turn the tide and make 2022 ‘The Year of Retention’. Investing in apprenticeships is an ideal place to start.”