Leading UK hospitality businesses have come together to “change the perception” of apprenticeships within the sector, including PizzaExpress and KFC.

The first summit was organised by Lifetime Training, and saw representatives attend from PizzaExpress, KFC, Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Radisson Hotel Group, Hallmark Hotels, Greene King, Mitchells & Butlers, Marston’s, and Jurys Inn Hotels.

Pledging to meet quarterly (the next summit taking place in April), the new group will discuss ways in which they can “tackle the perception of careers within the hospitality industry,” with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of apprenticeship applications and help reduce skills shortage.

It follows the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in the UK last year, which the group claims “has also highlighted the need for employers to work together to maximise the return on this investment.”

Alex Khan, chief executive at Lifetime Training, explained: “With the UK government committing to creating three million apprenticeships by 2020 and the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, now is the time for employers to follow suit and stand together so that we can increase the number of apprentices and address the industry’s productivity challenges.

“It was extremely encouraging to have several of the top hospitality employers all come together and recognise the need to educate people about the opportunities and support available from a career in hospitality.

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“By working collaboratively, we’re sure we will be able to start breaking down these barriers and start seeing the change that we all want to see.”

Apprenticeship manager at pub company, Greene King, Graham Briggs, added: “As employers, we know the perceptions and barriers for apprenticeships in hospitality, which is why we recognise the importance of employers working together to promote the fantastic opportunities available.

“We are very grateful for Lifetime Training, who is helping to facilitate this steering group.

“We know we have a job to do in educating people about the benefits of working in hospitality and taking an apprenticeship, and we hope to do this through activities such as school engagement and career shows.”