Developing an Apprenticeship Strategy

Paul Mannering, Principal of the HIT Training Chef Academy gives his advice to The Morning Advertiser on developing an apprenticeship strategy. 

“Apprenticeships are a hot topic in the pub sector, as operators look for ways to retain employees in the wake of Brexit and large-scale businesses consider how to invest their Apprenticeship Levy funding.  

“While many are familiar with the widespread benefits of offering apprenticeships, there is still confusion surrounding how best to set up a programme and the need to have a long-term strategy. With many changes happening in the apprenticeship arena, particularly as we move from apprenticeship frameworks to standards, setting up a development plan can seem like a daunting task – but it needn’t be.

“It may sound clichéd but a bit of well thought-out planning can make a big difference when it comes to establishing a training strategy to be proud of. Before setting out on this journey, here are my top points for consideration:

One-size doesn’t fit all 

“All businesses in our industry are different, as are the people who work within them. You wouldn’t give each chef in your kitchen the same size whites and this analogy can be applied to apprenticeships. The first step of setting up a programme is to firstly look at your business goals, then secondly the career aspirations of your team and any skills gaps you may have. Working with a training provider, you can then find the right apprenticeships to collectively meet these objectives. 

Don’t forget existing skills and knowledge

“Most companies will already have some form of staff training in place however a common pitfall when setting up an apprenticeship scheme is not mapping these existing skills and knowledge into that structure. This can mean that you effectively end up paying twice for the training. At HIT, we work with our clients to not only map their apprenticeship programme to existing training but also their culinary and beverage ranges, menu structure and business growth plans, to ensure they have a bespoke scheme which matches their individual requirements and that they’re maximising their Levy funding. 

Preparing for End Point Assessment (EPA)

“One of the main differences between the new apprenticeship standards compared to the old frameworks system is that learners will now have to complete one assessment at the end of their course. The EPA can include multiple-choice tests, observations, a professional discussion and a written project. While apprenticeships are geared up to helping employees be the best they can be in their job, it’s also important to put steps in place throughout the 12-month learning to ensure they are geared up for the EPA and have all the preparation in place to excel in the assessment. At HIT, our trainers meet with their learners regularly to check how they are finding the training and to run mock EPA sessions to ensure nothing comes as a surprise.

Shout about it

“After developing a market-leading apprenticeship programme, don’t forget to tell people about it! This is vital when it comes to recruitment and retention both for the scheme itself and other roles within the business. Companies which invest in staff development are seen as a more attractive place to work – particularly amongst Millennials – and for a sector with an increasing skills shortage, it’s fundamental. 

“As we start a New Year, there’s no better time to evaluate your employee training and how apprenticeships can fit into this. With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and the switchover to hospitality standards at the end of this year, apprenticeships have never been so relevant and in-line with the requirements of our sector. What’s more, there is undoubtedly an appetite for high-quality training and career progression opportunities from the talented people we have in the pub sector. I urge all publicans to make the most of the benefits afforded by this year’s apprenticeship changes and start thinking carefully about how investing in staff development can lead their business to future success.”

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