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Apprenticeship Levy Gifting - Cherry Reds

Case Study

In 2023, Compass Group UK & Ireland announced a commitment to gift £500,000 of apprenticeship levy funding to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to boost hospitality and professional services apprenticeships for the region.

Funding has been made available to help people gain the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to enter and progress within the hospitality sector and give West Midlands businesses access to more emerging talent – a vital step in levelling up for the region.

One business receiving the gifted funding is Cherry Reds - an independent café bar, based in Birmingham City Centre. Owned by Jen Nadin, the café was established over ten years ago and employs around 26 people, serving hundreds of customers every week.

Cherry Reds proudly serves simple, delicious food - cooked to order fresh on site. The café has a great range of tasty craft beers and hosts events and parties, including beer festivals.

Jen started her career in a pub chain, where she received training and development opportunities, which gave her the foundations for her career and supported her love of working in the hospitality industry.

Cherry Reds had previously offered learning and development opportunities to its staff, for example some chefs have done NVQs. But it was during the Covid pandemic and her time off while she took maternity leave, that Jen became focussed on upskilling her Deputy, so that there was more management support too.

Deputy Manager, Astou Walter, has now worked at the café for three years. She started her Hospitality Management level 4 apprenticeship - equivalent to higher national certificate (HNC), in September 2023. It’s an 18-month course which blends remote learning, alongside a job, with a focus on core knowledge, skills and behaviours to exceed customers’ expectations. The course helps participants fulfil their business vision and objectives, covering off people and customer relation skills.

To put Astou forward for the apprenticeship, Cherry Reds was able to utilise £6,000 of the West Midlands Combined Authority apprenticeship levy funding which was gifted to them from Compass Group UK & Ireland.

Jen Nadin, Owner, Cherry Reds said; “We found out about the available apprenticeship funding through the West Midlands Combined Authority, via Skern Training and Skills. This has been a great opportunity for our business, but also Astou. She is able to come back with fresh ideas and I think it’s a real investment in her skills and future.”

Astou Walter, Deputy Manager, Cherry Reds and apprentice said: “This has given me the opportunity to balance learning on the job and I have gained valuable perspective and skills to support my current role. It’s has been great to be a beneficiary of the apprentice levy funding in this way.”

Set up in March 2019, the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer Fund allows large employers to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to SME organisations, to pay for the Apprenticeship Standards to be delivered.

Jonathan Foot, Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland; “Cherry Reds is a great example of how sharing the Apprenticeship Levy funds can support smaller independent businesses to grow and nurture their people. It’s great to see Astou enjoying the course and supporting the hospitality industry in Birmingham.” 

Deputy Manager, Cherry Reds - Astou Walter