White Compass Logo

Celebrating our industry during National Apprenticeship Week


Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships & Early Careers – Compass Group UK & Ireland (as seen on Public Sector Catering)

Our industry is an exciting, diverse place – with so many fantastic opportunities and many unique experiences. Yet, it is often overlooked as a career choice.

Today, (6th February 2023) marks the start of National Apprenticeship Week - I might be biased, but I believe it’s one of the most important weeks of the year - giving us a much-needed platform to shout about why people, whatever their age, qualifications or background, should think about taking on an apprenticeship. This could be to enter our industry, start learning to gain a qualification to progress, help them master their skills or even move their career in a new direction.

We are a people powered business, so attracting the best talent and keeping them within our organisation is crucial to our success. As we rebuild our industry after the pandemic, we need to be focused on making every job rewarding and showcasing how hospitality and contract catering can provide great career opportunities for everyone. We are part of a barrierless industry which means that you don’t need specific qualifications to join - we can offer skills training, as well as career opportunities, and flexibility - I can think of no greater example of providing opportunities for all and tackling social equality. 

We have many wonderful examples of people that have joined our industry and trained on the job, carving out interesting careers for themselves. These include colleagues that have cooked for The Royal Family, won medals at culinary competitions on the world stage, brought innovative and nutritious food to patients in hospitals and educated school children by helping them understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Last year, Compass launched Our Social Promise, an ambition to positively impact one million lives by 2030, from both within and outside the organisation through job creation, education, training, community and charitable engagement. Part of this strategy includes the development of our people, maximising training opportunities such as apprenticeships, mentoring, our graduate scheme and internal Career Pathways.

We have introduced around 60 different apprenticeships that cover everything from Culinary, Facilities, Business Management, Events, HR, Finance, IT/Digital, Sales and Procurement. Our apprenticeships have been developed to take candidates from level 2 up to level 6 and 7, degree equivalent.

In the Summer of 2021, we launched the Forward with Marcus Wareing programme. The course is an enhanced development programme which runs alongside a Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef or Level 5 Operations Departmental Manager apprenticeship standard and is delivered in partnership with national provider, HIT training. It focusses on taking the apprentices to the next level of training, with an emphasis on modules including commercial, culture and sustainability. A great example of people mastering their craft, pushing the boundaries and gaining once in a lifetime experiences.

Importantly, we also focus on the communities we operate in, such as outreach to schools. This will help children become business and employment ready and to start to close the skills gap alongside demonstrating the kind of opportunities available. We need to find and utilise the channels to let people know about our industry and what we can offer. Areas we have had success in is through our Junior Chef Academy, internships, work experience and T Level Industry Placements.

Another focus for us has been strengthening and establishing partnerships with supply-chain partners and charities, who work with people experiencing barriers to employment, such as the long-term unemployed and offering Gateway to Employment routes, Sector Based Work Academies and apprenticeships in prisons.

Our focus on training is vital – providing brilliant and diverse opportunities for people. Yet, it’s also helping us to future proof our business, retaining and attracting the very best people whilst also honing the skills that we need to best support our clients and customers for today.

To find out more about Compass Group UK & Ireland’s apprenticeships visit - Career Pathways | Early Careers | Compass Group UK&I (compass-group.co.uk)

Jonathan Foot talks about the importance of National Apprenticeship Week