By Brigid Simmonds
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, discusses the importance of getting apprenticeships right in the hospitality sector
It was National Apprenticeship Week 2019 from 4-8 March.
Now in its 12th year, National Apprenticeship Week offers both
an opportunity to celebrate our fantastic apprenticeship
schemes and a chance to promote their importance to pubs and the wider hospitality sector.
I am one of the many advocates of apprenticeships. I did not go to university and after working in the hospitality sector for the best part of 25 years I have met, know and admire many people for whom the apprenticeship route into employment – or during their employment – opened the doors to an exciting and rewarding career in a pub or other hospitality business. It is one of our sector’s best kept secrets that you can be running an exciting business at, or even before, the age of 25. For entrepreneurs who enjoy working with people, it simply offers one of the best possible careers out there.
The success of apprenticeship schemes is in part down to sectors like our own leading the way in embracing them. It is also essential, however, that everyone across Government and in educational establishments recognises the apprenticeship route into employment, so they are not seen as second best to university degrees.
The Hospitality Showcase event on apprenticeships hosted in parliament during National Apprenticeship Week is exactly what industries across the UK should be doing to promote apprenticeships. I was proud to see so many pubs and brewers at the showcase event, demonstrating the enormous breadth of training and apprenticeships we offer.
The Leisure PR team did a fantastic job to encourage 30 organisations to set up stands in the House of Commons. Pubs alone employ around 600,000 people and there is a real need for us to attract and retain great employees who inspire customers to come to our venues and be so
impressed that they return for more, again and again.
Apprenticeships have a key role to play in this and, in hospitality and catering, there are 14 different apprenticeships standards, from bar supervisor to commis chef. Between 2013 and 2018, 165,000 people started apprenticeships in hospitality and catering – many of them in pubs. As we prepare to leave the EU, we may start to see some challenges in recruiting overseas workers. We must start attracting even more UK talent to work in our pubs, but with almost full employment that’s not going to be easy.
We need to convince more people of the future of pubs and hospitality, and the great careers they can provide. Continuing our great work with apprenticeships and promoting our careers in schools and colleges will be key in this.