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Costa and Premier Inn owner Whitbread commits £5.7m to create 6,000 apprenticeships

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The company will look to meet its target with an annual appointment of 1,200 apprentices across Premier Inn, Costa and restaurant brands including Beefeater Grill, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns. It also plans to take on 7,500 young people on work experience placements and offer 6,500 employment opportunities across all divisions over the five-year period.

“Our 45,000 team members are our greatest asset and it’s vital we invest in them, creating opportunities to develop their skills and build their careers,” said Andy Harrison, CEO of Whitbread. 

“We will commit £5.7 million to our apprenticeship programmes over the next five years. I firmly believe that investing in apprenticeships is essential to Whitbread’s future success and to the health of the UK economy, as well as helping the next generation to achieve their full potential.”

Apprenticeships secured a big push from the government in March during National Apprenticeship Week. As such, Real Business visited the House of Commons to hear from businesses and politicians about why youngsters can be so powerful for small firms that are looking to retain skills within the company.

British Chambers of Commerce president Nora Senior revealed her career started as a roof tiling apprentice. She said: “I think as businesses, we should be deeply conscious as we have a responsibility to look how we engage with young people, with apprentices, in order to safeguard talents for the future.”

Premier Inn’s apprenticeship programme was launched in 2010 and 1,100 apprenticeships have been created since, while 950 trainees are working towards an apprenticeship. Now, Costa will introduce a similar programme to deliver an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Customer Service and Barista Skills, with applications opening this summer.

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“There really has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship and it’s a huge leap forward to have Whitbread, one of Britain’s leading employers in the hospitality industry, hiring even more apprentices. We want apprenticeships to be level-pegging with a University degree giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet,” said prime minister David Cameron.

“We’ve already created 2.2 million apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality apprenticeships – to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security.”

Whitbread claims a third of apprentices have been promoted within 15 months, while 95 per cent of them have secured management positions in the same period. Additionally, apprentices are said to be 45 per cent more likely to stay with the business than non-apprentices – a stat that may convince non-apprentice businesses to consider the employment method.

Premier Inn is a particularly forward-thinking division of Whitbread’s, and it was revealed on 1 April that Monitise Create is producing an Apple Watch app for the company’s Hub venture. 

The £30m Hub hotel is based at St Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden and is said to have been “designed with innovation, sustainability and user-friendliness in mind, includes lighting and heating in bedrooms, which guests can control from an app.” 

Given that, Whitbread said the creative Hub venue is “staffed almost entirely by local young people who were not previously in education, employment or training” as part of a commitment to tackle youth unemployment. Furthermore, Premier Inn plans to fill at least half of new vacancies with people that are unemployed.

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