Mon, 20 August 2018

Whitbread Launches Digital Apprenticeship Scheme

Whitbread, one of the UK's largest hospitality companies, has launched a new digital apprenticeship scheme designed to equip candidates looking for alternative paths to university with the skills needed to face an increasingly digital economy.

The scheme, part of Whitbread's WISE (Whitbread Investing In Skills and Employment) initiative, will incorporate four newly-created roles which focus on digital-related specialisms, including software development, digital analytics and data science.

The initiative is part of the Premier Inn and Costa Coffee's owner's bid to address a skills shortage within this area. It is expected that 90% of all jobs in 20 years’ time will require digital skills, yet fewer than 8,000 students took A Level Computing in 2017. This low uptake has been attributed to a lack of teachers specialising as computing teachers and because the subject is considered a ‘difficult option’.

Reception of Premier Inn Manchester City (Picadilly). Click to enlarge.

It also reflects the hospitality brand’s wider focus on vocational training and its belief that there are many routes to success; whether that’s through formal apprenticeships or ‘on-the-job’ training.

Catherine Braybrook, Head of Learning and Development at Premier Inn & Restaurants, said, “Today’s students are under extreme pressure to achieve academically. But, as most good employers know, good exam results are not always indicative of good performance in the working world and that's why our motto at Whitbread is 'no barriers to entry, no limits to ambition'. You might have a first-class degree from a top university and that is of course absolutely wonderful, but university isn't the right path for everyone and what we really value is the ability to employ the people with the right attitude for the job - people with a spark and passion you just can't teach.”

The brand has awarded 2,350 apprentices industry qualifications to date, inspiring staff to choose a career, rather than just a job, in hospitality. These qualifications can prove incredibly valuable, apprenticeship graduates are 5.7 times more likely to progress to a higher role than non-apprentices.

One student who progressed quickly at the hospitality company without a degree is Charlotte Maloney, operations manager at a Premier Inn in Manchester. Not wanting any debt from taking a degree, Charlotte chose an apprenticeship with Whitbread, and today she says has no regrets, “I can hand on heart say that without doing my apprenticeships, I would not have advanced through the company, or gained the knowledge as quickly as I have done,” she said.

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