St Austell Brewery – HIT Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year

“St Austell Brewery’s robust outreach strategy encourages future generations to take up apprenticeship opportunities within hospitality.”


St Austell Brewery is a 172-year-old brewer, wholesaler and licensed retailer and one of the largest hospitality employers in the Southwest with 1800 plus employees. Their vertically integrated operation offers an unmatched range of apprenticeship career development opportunities with apprenticeship training becoming a central part of their people strategy throughout 2022 and 2023.

In the past 12 months, 30 people have completed their training and they have 90 apprentices on various courses throughout the business – which is 5% of their total headcount. HIT delivers the Level 4 Brewing Apprenticeship programme and the Level 2 Hospitality Team Member programme.

Apprenticeships are explored as a first choice for any colleague receiving training within the company and all new vacancies are assessed for suitability as an apprenticeship before being advertised. Their ambition is to become an apprentice employer of choice within the brewing industry and region.

St Austell Brewery – HIT Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year

Early Careers Manager Jon Kelley said: “Since we began our apprenticeship journey back in 2016, we have found apprenticeships to be a great way of investing in our future talent. They help us ensure our colleagues have the complete range of skills they need to do their job to the best of their ability and are a key part of our succession planning processes.

“We’re particularly proud of our relationship with HIT who we have partnered with since 2016. Their recruitment function is very effective and the training support they provide is always expertly delivered and efficient. HIT employs experts in their field to deliver their training programmes and it is always clear that the vocational trainers really care about the needs of their apprentices, as they all place candidate progression at the centre of everything they do.”

St Austell Brewery turned to apprenticeships after finding many skilled people within their brewing team were nearing retirement. In danger of losing valuable knowledge together with a continuing pathway of growth within the business, they were faced with the challenge of finding the additional head count and expertise they needed to keep ahead of demand.

“Our apprenticeship programmes have not only helped us stabilise our recruitment efforts through reducing our employee turnover and improving staff retention, but they have also had a positive impact on our employer brand image while increasing internal engagement and improving productivity.  

“Our outreach strategy has become increasingly important too. In 2023, we identified and formed working relationships with 10 schools across Cornwall and Devon, who are currently providing some form of hospitality/catering training provision for their pupils. These schools are now the focus of our outreach efforts.

St Austell Brewery – HIT Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year

“During 2023, we facilitated meaningful interactions with a total of 1200 year 10 and year 11 pupils with some of these pupils visiting us at the brewery, and some receiving career development advice as part of their Gatsby benchmarking requirements. In February, we held our first annual ‘Careers Open Day at the Brewery’, where we reached out to five different schools and invited them to send 100 year 9 pupils to join us at the brewery for our own careers fair.

“We took over the whole of our visitor centre to stage the event, where 16 departments each had a stall to represent the kinds of careers we can offer across our business. Stalls included Hospitality, Brewing, Sales, Marketing, Information Technology, Logistics and People. Proudly, every single stall was manned by at least one apprentice from that department. Some 500 pupils joined us throughout the day and the feedback was so excellent that we are making it an annual event.

“In Sept 2023 we inducted our first cohort of pupils at our ‘Under 16’s Hospitality Academy’. We believe we are the first company in our sector to fund such a programme, at least in the Southwest – if not the entire UK. We’re covering all costs for a local college to work with schools across Cornwall, offering pupils the chance to take part in a unique GCSE level Hospitality and Catering course. The idea is that participants will leave school with some valuable basic skills and unique experiences that will give them a head start if they decide to join us as a front of house or kitchen apprentice at one of our sites. We hope that this initiative will grow in popularity and inspire future generations to take up apprenticeship opportunities within hospitality.”


Joe Baker – Brewer at St Austell Brewery

Jodie Plummer – Senior Sous Chef at Compass Group UK & Ireland

Michael Mercer – Catering Manager at Sodexo

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