Vocational training: the revival

Since A-Level results are almost upon us, we start a new short series of articles from Pizza Hut exploring the revival of vocational training and how a robust apprenticeship programme can help and attract talent. 

Kathryn Austin, Chief People and Marketing Officer at Pizza Hut Restaurants. Photo source: Pizza Hut

As thousands of students across the UK anxiously prepare to receive their A-Level results tomorrow, many will be considering the best route to achieve their career ambitions. While some will have their heart set on attending university, others will be keen to explore alternative learning and development options that will enable them to head straight into the workplace.

More features

The mystery of measurement

How well do you sleep on a Sunday night?

How managers need management capability as well as leadership skills

Why small businesses need branding to win customer loyalty

In recent years there has been a revival in the number of businesses offering vocational or ‘on the job’ training. According to research by the House of Commons Library1 around 500,000 new apprenticeships were created in England in 2014/15 – a 14 per cent increase on the previous year.

These figures indicate that more employers are starting to recognise the potential of apprenticeships to add value to their business. Robust programmes benefit employers by attracting new talent to the industry and filling existing skills gaps as apprentices start to learn sector specific skills from day one.

At the same time, university may not be the right career path for everyone and it’s important for businesses to encourage students to regard apprenticeships as a great way to learn on the job whilst also gaining qualifications.

There are many advantages to recruiting apprentices. Firstly businesses can increase their productivity and performance by developing a more motivated and skilled workforce. Secondly, apprentices often bring new ideas and a fresh outlook which can inject energy into the existing workforce.

For us, millennials are a key customer group and by recruiting from this age group too we are able to gain useful insight into their preferences and apply this to our business strategy. Finally, high-quality programmes can play a vital role in helping UK industries tackle growing skills shortages.

For the hospitality industry, this is especially true. As the forth largest employer in the UK, with expectations for a further 16 per cent growth by 2020, there is a huge demand for skilled workers in all areas of the sector. Apprenticeships can add value to the profession by opening the doors to a career not just within a restaurant environment but also in leadership and management roles.

As a business, our people are incredibly important and we place them at the heart of our business strategy. Only through them can we offer our customers an experience that is second to none. This is why we’ve deliberately adopted an approach that focuses on teaching skills for life, striking a balance between teaching high-level technical skill while supporting behavioural and emotional development too.

For us, apprenticeships are about offering a quality entry route into industry. There are opportunities available for everyone including new recruits and existing employees. By offering the full range of qualifications from intermediate right through to degree level, we are able to provide the right support to empower our staff to succeed in their roles, regardless of their previous qualifications or experience.

With a diverse range of opportunities available from servers and chefs to leadership and management roles, we are attracting talent right across the board and building a more skilled workforce for the future.

When implementing an apprenticeship programme it’s important for employers to consider how they can help their employees progress within the business over the long-term. Staff retention is high on the agenda for many firms and research from the National Apprenticeship Service2 has shown that a high proportion of apprentices will progress to management positions after receiving high-quality training.

More than a third of our staff that work above restaurat level started out in one of our restaurants and have since worked their way up. To ensure we are continuing this trend we launched an industry first – a degree level apprenticeship programme to empower our staff to develop their leadership and management skills.

The programme, which starts this September, is delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, and offers people an opportunity to study for a BA (Hons) Business Management degree whille receiving on the job training within Pizza Hut Restaurants.

We have five successful candidates who are primed to start next month and as part of the programme they will also receive leadership qualifications accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Higher value apprenticeships such as this have been hailed by the Government as an effective way to up-skill existing employees and drive recruitment in more established positions.

As more and more people consider the benefits of joining an apprenticeship programme, business leaders must understand that just having an apprenticeship scheme is not enough – the quality, structure and progression routes available as part of the scheme will ultimately determine success.


  1. http://bit.ly/2bp19Mr
  2. http://bit.ly/2aSLFnp

Debbie Carter

Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *