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Karl Svendsen – Store Manager at Caffè Nero

My apprenticeship helped me overcome adversity and bring the best out of me.

Karl’s apprenticeship journey

The reason for starting my apprenticeship came from a place most dear to my heart. In 2019, I became a proud father for the first time and this was a big driver for me to gain full-time employment to support my daughter. To provide financially for my new family, I took the very difficult decision to leave university where I was studying for a law degree.  An apprenticeship offered me the perfect opportunity to earn a living, kickstart my career and secure a comfortable future for me and my family.

Initially, having little experience working as a Barista created a steep learning curve for me as I started my apprenticeship. By putting my ego aside and asking for help, I was put onto a 6 week learning plan to help me develop my knowledge, skill set and behaviours. This resulted in a promotion to the Shift Leader role at Caffè Nero! In a more proactive role I was able to expand my skill set even further, including having the time to participate in workshops.

Towards the end of my apprenticeship journey, I suffered a huge personal setback as my partner and I separated. I temporarily moved to Manchester from Liverpool as I didn’t have any family or friends locally to stay with. I was devastated as my apprenticeship was temporarily put on hold. However, by opening up and working closely with my Area Manager, we set a deadline to continue working towards and complete my apprenticeship. Despite my personal struggles, sofa surfing and new way of life, I refused to fail and followed it through to the very end.

By continually putting my pride aside, I remained positive and challenged myself. Despite these difficult circumstances, I was able to achieve a distinction and finish my apprenticeship in full. I am humbled to this day for the help and support of others, and the opportunity my apprenticeship has created to give my daughter and I a brighter future.

Why an apprenticeship?

In every job I’ve had, I’ve always looked to develop my knowledge and skills to challenge myself and hopefully progress. Caffè Nero offered me the opportunity to develop from Shift Leader to Store Manager in just 15 months with a Hospitality Supervisor Apprenticeship. This was a perfect opportunity to push myself and try something new! 

I eagerly applied excited about gaining a qualification and the potential opportunities it could unlock. By observing and paying attention to my own performance, I’m now better equipped to motivate and develop a team to deliver results in our fast-paced hospitality environment. Additionally, I’m able to efficiently manage stock levels and identify issues, as well as implementing methods to stop these issues happening in future.

Caffè Nero were extremely supportive of my apprenticeship, giving me time on and off the bar to complete my work with HIT, have meetings with my Training Consultant and reflect on the work completed with my Area Manager. They also gave me the opportunity to be a part of their internal Store Manager Training Programme, taking part in four management workshops.

Benefitting my business.

By taking on the role of Store Manager in one of the Liverpool stores, I was immediately able to make positive changes. My apprenticeship gave me the tools I needed to launch an investigation into the store’s discrepancies with stock staking. I then confidently delivered training to staff to prevent this issue from happening in future and within three months, the missing margin was brought back within the target percentage.

I also took on the responsibility of writing rotas, ensuring there was a fair distribution of hours given to all team members. I also lead on inventory management and recruitment for my store and two others in our area. Most notably, my training has empowered me to confidently lead and coach new and existing members of staff. In my store, I’m now the designated individual for fire risk assessments, health and safety and pest control daily/monthly routines in store. 

The HIT Training difference

My HIT Training Consultant, Karen, was incredibly knowledgeable, not only with her experience, but in delivering the apprenticeship and making the most of our time together. She was always open to my many questions and provided me with as many opportunities as possible to demonstrate the knowledge and skills I had picked up. We improved my knowledge in areas I struggled with, such as the practices of compliance with all H&S, COSHH and Food Hygiene. This resulted in a productive session, debating how to deliver KPIs whilst adhering a budget. This definitely helped me achieve the optimum results in my End Point Assessment. 

My apprenticeship pushed me outside my comfort zone, taking every opportunity to encourage me to go head first into situations that I felt less comfortable or capable of tackling otherwise. The training has encouraged me to take more time to reflect on my own learning and how I communicate with my team. This has culminated in more confidence to take on greater challenges and motivates me to look for opportunities I’d previously have doubted myself.

Completing my training has fuelled my ambition to hopefully move into events management. In the past I’ve worked within sport events, and the skills I gained through my apprenticeship will help me to take on a role like this in the future.

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It was great speaking to our account manager, Catherine, this afternoon and great to hear that HIT are being so supportive with our apprentices, I found the call very positive in a time of crisis, so thank you.

The Learner’s leaflet is great and being sent out to Apprentices and Line Managers following our communication last week providing a great follow up.

Jonathan Foot - Head of Apprenticeships, Compass Group

McMullen’s chose HIT as its sole external provider for Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in early 2015 and since then we have found them a pleasure to work with.  Their expertise in this sector is superior and they have proven to be a professional and supportive partner who have a passion for learning and development, which matches our own organisation.

Amanda Walden – Training & Recruitment Manager, McMullen's

Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers. Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.

Andrew Mosedale - Group HR Manager, Brend Hotels

Our partnership with HIT has certainly made recruitment much easier in a very difficult labour market and gives us a point of difference in an increasingly competitive environment.  Kew Green has also benefited enormously from well trained, skilled and competent staff who contribute significantly to the ever improving and high levels of customer experience that our guests expect and deserve.

Andrew Tregenza - HR Business Partner, Kew Green Hotels

Apprenticeships allow us to give people a great opportunity to develop a career with us and learn a skill or trade that will accompany them throughout their career and life. We see progression to the Level 4 qualification as key to our strategy of providing development at all stages of an employee’s career with Harrison.

Alex Taylor - Training Manager, Harrison Catering Services

HIT Training has provided such an incredible support to us during lockdown, with regular webinar invitations, videocalls and engagement solutions. Our business focus shifted to learning and development and we managed to enrol 3 times more apprentices on training programmes than before!

Anastasia Talatzidou -L&D Manager, Gaucho


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