Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships & Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland
As seen in Public Sector Catering
National Apprenticeship Week provides a platform to shine a spotlight on the important role apprenticeships have in career development and providing opportunities to people - no matter their age, background, profession or level.
Post-covid, the hospitality and foodservice industry has faced many challenges rebuilding. However, we have seen lots to be positive about in recent months, and at Compass we are seeing more job applications per role than pre-Covid, which is really encouraging. However, there is still lots more to do to encourage people to see our industry as an option for a long-term career and not a short-term solution.
I believe our industry is an exciting place where successful careers can be forged. We are in the unique position of being a barrierless industry, which means people often need little or no qualifications to join. We can offer on the job training and development and we have so many fantastic examples of individuals that have worked their way up the ranks and are now in roles such as Exec Chefs, Managing Directors or sustainability leads.
As an industry we need to invest in skills. At Compass we do this through our Career Pathways and apprenticeships, which is aligned to Our Social Promise – a commitment to positively impact one million lives by 2030.
That’s why I am very proud that we have increased our apprenticeship numbers by almost 60% in two years. Our offer continues to evolve with new programmes. One example of success is our Forward with Marcus Wareing programme, which was launched to develop our top level of culinary talent, with a focus on sustainability know-how as well as advanced cooking skills. The programme continues to progress year on year and late in 2023 we held a celebration event at Twickenham with all three cohorts - it was fantastic to bring them all together and we are currently looking for our Cohort 4 participants. Originally launched in August 2021, the first Forward with Marcus Wareing cohort have now achieved their Senior Culinary Level 4 Apprenticeship – all with a distinction grade. A brilliant example of pushing career progression at our top levels and supporting business needs, to deliver for our clients.
Mentors and role models are incredibly important for people aspiring to progress in our industry. Within Compass we have continued to work with Bryn Williams in our Compass Cymru business, Stevie McLaughlin supports within Compass Scotland, as well as Dipna Anand and others throughout the business. This week will also see members of our Executive and leadership team, along with the culinary leadership team spending a day with an apprentice to help them better understand our business and the different opportunities that exist.
Promoting and celebrating our industry at entry level is crucial. We take part in many careers fairs, have our Junior Chef Academy and Gateway to Employment programmes in partnership with the Springboard Charity. One element of our work that I want to shout about is our Apprentice Chef of the year competition. 2023 saw eight Compass apprentices make it to the final and have the opportunity to show off the skills they have learnt so far, while gaining experience of a competition. It was great to see the very talented Jess Miller – Apprentice Chef de Partie, Chartwells Independent win and then go onto cook her winning dishes for 100 people. What an amazing development opportunity!
It's great to have a week recognising the role of apprentices, but for us apprenticeships are important every day of the year, and it’s a privilege to support people with development and provide career opportunities.