How degree apprenticeships can help fire up the hospitality sector

To mark the inaugural Hospitality Apprenticeship Week next week (August 5-9), Brendan Moffett, Director of the University of Derby’s Centre for Contemporary Hospitality and Tourism, discusses the power of degree apprenticeships in helping to boost the hospitality sector.

The recently-announced Tourism Sector Deal is the catalyst needed to support government and industry working in partnership to boost productivity and develop the skills of the UK workforce.

While ambitious, the Deal sets out a clear plan to “generate good jobs and greater earning power for all”. It focuses on ensuring high-quality training is available, so that the tourism and hospitality sector can attract, retain and develop a workforce with the skills it needs both now and in the future.

For a sector which is facing crucial challenges in the recruitment and retention of staff, this is extremely positive news. The hospitality sector is the third largest in the UK, employing more than 3.2 million people. Forecasts have identified as many as one million additional employees will be needed over the next two years, which means the pressure is on to develop a highly-skilled workforce, fostering those skills so individuals are able to fulfil their career ambitions, while plugging the existing skills shortage.

Changing perceptions of the hospitality industry

Here at the University of Derby we are excited by the development of the first Hospitality Apprenticeship Week, set up by the National Apprenticeship Service, and believe it will start to positively shift perceptions among young people, parents, teachers and other influencers, that the industry is limited to low-paid, part-time jobs.

Apprenticeships are undoubtedly a key part of promoting hospitality as a career of choice and providing an alternative pathway into senior level roles, as well as entry level.

Universities UK’s recent report The Future of Degree Apprenticeships highlights these programmes as a “growing success story”, with the number of people taking up degree apprenticeships increasing at a rapid rate.

We have been working closely with industry partners and are excited to be unveiling a BA (Hons) Hospitality Management and Leadership (Apprenticeship) programme in readiness for 2020. The programme will engage with the main disciplines of management and leadership but rooted in the context of the hospitality sector. This is being shaped by leading employers and professional bodies to offer an apprenticeship and work-based learning route that delivers against the current needs of the sector. The content and structure provides an academically challenging and work relevant degree, encompassing the real issues involved in successfully maintaining and progressing a career pathway within the hospitality sector.

Degree apprenticeships offer a cost-effective way to train, develop and upskill a workforce, a way to motivate staff and improve job satisfaction, and a way to improve staff retention rates.

Earning at the same time as learning is a key incentive for young people; they are given high-quality on-the-job training delivered alongside degree-level academic learning while they work towards a nationally recognised qualification.

Research shows that staff retention in hospitality is at just 70 per cent, against a UK average of 85 per cent, with unsociable working hours, low pay and benefits, and lack of career prospects the top three reasons.

The need for higher level skills to support the attraction and retention of talent, therefore, has never been more imperative. Many people working in the hospitality sector, while having worked in industry for years and are skilled in what they do, have no formal qualifications. Degree apprenticeships help ensure the sector is maximising the available talent pool, while encouraging people to stay within the workforce, and pursue key roles in management and leadership.

It could be argued that the hospitality sector needs the status of a degree level subject to attract and retain people, and degree apprenticeships are a way of offering that solution.

Greater awareness is needed among employers about the benefits of degree apprenticeships and making the most of the Apprenticeship Levy. Equally as important, is the need to engage with children from a young age about career pathways and options – and ensure degree apprenticeships are not perceived inferior to traditional three-year degrees.

The hospitality industry offers some of the most diverse and rewarding careers in the UK, and I hope, that by bringing employers and industry leaders together for Hospitality Apprenticeship Week, the positive difference apprenticeships can have on the lives of individuals are promoted and celebrated.

We are looking to work closely with employers within the hospitality industry. If you would like to find out more about how we could help you recruit and retain a workforce with the higher level skills to support the future success of your business, please contact us on 0800 001 5500 or via businesshub@derby.ac.uk

For further press information please contact the Corporate Communications Team on 01332 591491, pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or @derbyunipress

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