Browns becomes latest brand to invest in apprentices

Mitchells & Butlers' Browns brand of bars and brasseries has announced the launch a new £150,000 catering and hospitality management apprenticeship scheme in its restaurants in what is the latest example of businesses in the sector investing in the training and development of young people interested in hospitality careers.

Under the scheme, Browns will recruit 60 apprentices to a new 12-month training programme for front of house staff and chefs, with the participants working towards a Level 2 qualification – equivalent to five A*-C GCSEs – in food and beverage service or professional cookery. The training will be conducted via an e-learning resource and with the guidance and assessments from Browns' own mentors.

"Browns has a fantastic track record in developing in our people and offering career progression," said Vanessa Hall, the chain's brand operations director. "We are proud of our loyal and highly skilled work force and the launch of the apprentice scheme can only enhance this."

Mitchells & Butlers is just the latest of a number of employers in the hospitality sector to invest in apprenticeship schemes, with the industry adopting it as a means to attract more young people to hospitality jobs and help them develop the skills necessary to succeed in the sector.

For example, August this year saw hotel group Hilton launch an apprenticeship scheme in the UK that will offer 100 school leavers the chance to gain a Level 2 qualification in professional cookery, front office, food and beverage service, multi-skilled hospitality service, exercise and fitness or sales.

And last week saw the official launch of the Hotel Future project – which will see the construction of a fully functional hotel in Greater Manchester that will be staffed almost entirely by those on training schemes, with 100 apprentices taken on each year.

Commenting on Browns' new apprenticeships scheme, David Way, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "The launch of Mitchells & Butlers / Browns apprenticeship programme shows the importance that leading employers are placing on apprenticeships to help recruit and train talented young people to become the high quality chefs and hospitality professionals they need for their growing business.

"By working together with employers to offer high quality apprenticeship programmes, we can show young people and their parents that there are clear opportunities to climb the ladder right to the top through taking up apprenticeships."

Schemes such as these could help to address common misconceptions held by many young people about working in the hospitality industry. A survey by Livebookings revealed that nearly half of young people in the UK would have not considered a career in hospitality, despite the fact that the sector offers significant employment opportunities for younger workers particularly in comparison to other sectors in these currently tough economic times.

"A career in catering is sometimes overlooked but we're looking to change those perceptions by offering a really high level of training," commented Ms Hall.

"We are offering extremely competitive rates of pay which are the equivalent to the full rate for the jobs being performed, plus they receive training and nationally recognised qualifications at the end of the 12-month training period."

Meanwhile People 1st – the sector skills council for the hospitality sector – announced this week that it has has launched the first ever Level 4 apprenticeship framework designed specifically for the hospitality industry.

According to the organisation, the Higher Apprenticeship in Hospitality Management has been developed to bridge the gap between the supervisory skills gained in an apprentice's early career and the strategic management skills required to work at a senior level.

"Whereas intermediate and advanced apprenticeships focus on developing the front line and supervisory skills employers need within their organisation, the new framework will provide a clear career development path into management for learners," said People 1st's Ruth Asker-Browne.

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