People working at pubs, cafés, hotels, and fast-food chains, including technical experts, senior managers, and leaders of staff development, are being urged to grasp an exciting opportunity to transform future skills training for the better.

In celebration of Hospitality Week and as part of its commitment to improving the country’s skills system, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) is embarking on a major review of the catering and hospitality skills being taught today and in the future. We want employers from right across these vital sectors to guide our decision making and need many more to come forward and provide us with vital first-hand knowledge and insights.

This is a unique opportunity for employers to join the influential employer-led Trailblazing Group that will lead the review process with support from IfATE. We developed a pastry chef apprenticeship with experts from Harrods, De Vere, and other organisations, for example, when employers said they needed one, and it will launch early next year.

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE, said: “It is vital we hear from employers so we can act fast and make the apprenticeships in catering and hospitality fit for purpose to support growth in the sector. We know that the pandemic, Brexit and the cost of living crisis has affected the industry significantly. We want to ensure we have the right apprenticeships available to tackle labour shortages and offer routes into the sector for school leavers and career changers.”

There are currently 10 apprenticeships in the catering and hospitality sector, with another two in development. They span back of house and front of house roles at levels 2, 3 (which is equivalent to GCSE and A Level) and 4. Some were approved for delivery as far back as 2016, so the time is now right to review what training is available and find out from the people who know best – the employers – what new and improved provision is needed.

All apprenticeships, T Levels, and Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are designed by employers, with support from IfATE, as they understand what training is needed to fill their skills gaps and give the trainees cutting-edge skills to support them into successful careers. IfATE is currently in the process of rolling out the employer-led approach pioneered in apprenticeships into all other classroom based technical qualifications, so guidance from increasing numbers of businesses is more important than ever.

Lee Woolley, director of learning and organisation development at the Stonegate Group, which is the largest pub group in the UK, said: “Developing personalised qualifications at all levels is a sure-fire way of engaging and retaining great people. At Stonegate Group we have hundreds of learners engaged with apprenticeships across dozens of titles, metrics prove that it more than halves staff turnover rates. I would like to take this opportunity to urge businesses right across our sector to support IfATE with updating and improving the training available - so it meets our skills needs now and in future.”

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