At the third and final UK Hospitality Commission evidence session politicians heard from apprentices from The Ritz and Park Plaza, training providers and operators about the importance of skills-based learning.

Witnesses highlighted the great strides British hospitality has taken over the past 25 years and called on MPs to champion the industry to help recruit new talent and tackle the negative perception the industry faces. Apprentices emphasised the importance of skills-based training in the industry with Michael Chambers, a Commis Chef Apprentice from Park Plaza Hotels commenting that “a CV doesn’t help you cut an onion”.

Politicians heard from Sandra Kelly, Head of Education at Whitbread, Jill Whittaker Managing Director of HIT Training, Antony Pender Founder and Director of Yummy Pub Co, Sam Coulstock Business Relations Director at Umbrella Training and apprentices Henry Layton from The Ritz and Oliver Hawkins and Michael Chambers, Commis Chief Apprentice from the Park Plaza Hotels.

Witnesses discussed how the Apprenticeship Levy has effected hospitality businesses with SMEs, such as Yummy Pub Co, being negatively impacted. Witnesses called for the Apprenticeship Levy transfer fund cap to be expanded from 10% to 50% to help support SMEs, which make up of 90% of the hospitality industry.  Other topics discussed including the importance of careers advice and the need to communicate the new T-Level, and its three month industry placement, to SMEs.    

Chair of the third and final evidence session, and Co-Chair of the APPG for Education and Skills Nic Dakin MP said: “It was brilliant to hear from people across the hospitality industry and to learn about the challenges and opportunities the sector faces. With brilliant ambassadors such as the apprentices we heard from yesterday I’m confident that the industry will continue to thrive and grow with a new generation of British talent.”

UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Commission has heard from a number of speakers from across the industry and I’m looking forward to publishing the report in September.

“Yesterday’s session highlights that hospitality businesses are facing a potentially very costly skills shortage and employers need support in order ensure that vacancies are filled. Recent industry reports showed that the sector would need an additional 11,000 chefs before 2020 and that almost 1 million new staff members would be needed by 2022. Clearly, businesses are going to need significant support in filling these gaps so it is important that the catering T-Level comes in as soon as possible.”

The Commission, led by UKHospitality, aims to promote understanding of the importance and potential of the UK’s hospitality sector and brings together a wide range of hospitality employers and All-Party Parliamentary Groups, along with other stakeholders, industry bodies and authorities, to deliver an employment foundation for the sector.

This was the final session of the Commission. UK Hospitality will review the written and oral evidence and aim to publish a report with recommendations to the government, industry and education providers in September 2018.