Apprenticeships in Scotland: How Whitbread is developing a Modern Apprenticeship Programme

March 1 2016

Whitbread is the UK’s largest hospitality company, with over 2500 sites in the UK. Premier Inn, one of their key brands, has developed a new Modern Apprenticeship Framework to deliver a pilot new apprenticeship programme at their sites across Scotland.

Last year Whitbread started developing the new programme framework, which they could use to deliver a Modern Apprenticeship programme in Premier Inns across Scotland.

Whitbread decided to create a new programme framework for Scottish Apprenticeships because they wanted to utilise the recognised brand of Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland and ensure the new apprenticeships worked within their wider UK training strategies.

Whitbread built strong relationships with ITC and Skills Development Scotland and worked with them to develop a pilot programme for a level 2 Modern Apprenticeship for their Premier Inn sites. They worked and continue to work closely with local training provider partners to leverage local knowledge and expertise in delivering the pilot.

When developing the new framework, Whitbread worked hard to ensure it fitted in with their UK-wide training standards. In Scotland the length of an apprenticeship isn’t fixed  and there is no requirement to ensure apprentices are new recruits to the company. Taking these considerations into account Whitbread provides a 12 month programme and  offers the Modern Apprenticeship for new recruits to the company to mirror their UK wide standard apprenticeship practice. The competency and knowledge sections of both the Scottish and English frameworks are the same. This standardises practices across both countries and ensures there is workforce flexibility as all apprentices are able to relocate to different sites in the UK after completing their training. Whitbread run an Apprentice of the Year Award which attracts applicants from across the UK. Last year Edinburgh-based Daniel Bianco won Whitbread’s Apprentice of the Year and this year’s winner was Paige Flynn from Leeds.

Whitbread recruit apprentices across the UK on a rolling basis, meaning that young people are not excluded from opportunities by timing. Apprentices are advertised locally and recruited according to local business needs and the availability of local employment opportunities.

All of Whitbread’s apprentices are employed on permanent contracts and are paid a standard UK rate which is above the minimum wage. The recruitment process focuses on identifying the right values, behaviours and attitudes rather than experience as the training and skills development is provided through the apprenticeship.

Whitbread are working towards a target of having 150 apprentices training at any given time in Scotland and are currently developing a new framework for a Modern Apprenticeship for use in their Costa Coffee branches. With a new Premier Inn opening every 10 days in the UK and a vast expansion of the Costa coffee brand, they are committed to delivering 6,000 apprenticeship across the UK by 2020.

Read more about the differences between Scottish and English Apprenticeships.

Malcolm Redmond, Project Manager, The WISE Programme (Whitbread Investing in Skills & Employment)  “At Whitbread, we have worked hard to develop a Modern Apprenticeship programme for our sites in Scotland. We are have achieved this by working closely with Skills Development Scotland and local providers to ensure our new programme meets the specific needs of the skills agenda in Scotland, as laid out by the recommendations of the Wood Commission. By 2020 we are hoping to achieve a cohesive approach to apprenticeship delivery across the UK; balancing our apprentices’ needs for flexible future career relocation opportunities and the need for our companies to be responsive to local employment and skills contexts. Our recruitment for all our apprentices is focused on attitudes, behaviours and values. We can train and develop the skills, so what we are looking for is the right person, at the right time who has the potential to really thrive in our company, whatever side of the border.”