Top Ten Myths about Apprenticeships in Licensed Retail – Busted!

A guide to the rules and regulations on training apprentices in the hospitality sector

Top Ten Myths about Apprenticeships in Licensed Retail – Busted!

The myths surrounding the employment of apprentices in the licenced retail trade have only served to deter owners/operators of licenced premises from tapping into a hugely beneficial talent pipeline that could be available to them. Rachael Fidler, Managing Director of HTP Training, identifies the most common misapprehensions and reveals the truth.

  1. Apprentices aged 16 cannot work behind a bar

The Licensing Act now states that at the age of 16 you can legally do any kitchen work in licenced premises and, with the supervision of the manager/ landlord, you can legally serve alcohol. If a family member owns the bar you can legally work there with another bartender. If you are 16 or 17, the person who holds the licence (licensee) must not employ you in a bar at a time when it is open for the sale or consumption of alcohol, unless the work you do is part of an approved training scheme. If the licensee does employ you in these circumstances, it is the licensee, not you, who will be committing an offence.

  1. Owners/operators of licenced premises do not qualify for the £1500 government apprenticeships grant?

The Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE) with a value of £1,500 (or £3000 for London employers) is available to small to medium sized employers recruiting 16 to 24 year olds. Licenced premises also fall within the Hospitality and Leisure sector – one of the key groups being targeted by the Government. So providing you employ less than 1000 employees and you have not accessed Government funding for an Apprentice in the last 12 months; you should qualify for the grant and your training provider should be able to guide you through the paperwork to secure it. You can receive a grant of £1500 for each of your first ten new apprentices, subject to funding availability.

  1. Owners/operators of licenced premises do not qualify for the £1500 government apprenticeships grant?

You can employ as many apprentices as you wish. However it is important to bear in mind that each apprentices requires attentive, one-to-one mentoring. Therefore, you must ensure that you have sufficient time to manage and support each apprentice to enable them to become a productive, long term asset to your business and the industry.

  1. Youngsters that want to be apprentices have limited potential

This is pure hokum! Just because a young person does not choose an academic route in to employment does not preclude them from being hugely successful in the world of work.

Every young person deserves a high quality education but the traditional higher education route is not necessarily always the best or most suitable option. Recent reports state that more than half of young people currently studying at university would do an apprenticeship if offered to them. The reason that many choose University over an Apprenticeship is convention rather than a belief that it will give them a better education. Apprentices are motivated, quick to learn and keen to progress and there are now Higher Apprenticeships available which can satisfy the needs of those looking to achieve Higher Education qualifications.

  1. The licensed retail trade does not need apprentices; it needs experienced, flexible, casual labour

There is undoubtedly a place for casual, transient labour. Apprenticeships, however, are a way of bringing in new blood and creating a generation of well-trained and appropriately skilled potential future landlords which the industry needs. Through Apprenticeships, licenced premises owners and operators have the opportunity to train youngsters providing them with the e skills and behaviours that they want them to practice in their premises. Done properly it sets young people on a career path that will benefit the industry by introducing generation of well-skilled, motivated and professional youngsters.

  1. Apprentices must have someone with them at all times

Apprentices are motivated youngsters who want to learn. As with any new skill they need to be shown how to carry out and be allowed to practice but they do not need to be handheld. An apprentice who receives appropriate mentoring will rapidly become a productive key team member. When employing an Apprentice to work in licenced premises you will, of course, need to comply with the law, as detailed in my first point above.

  1. Apprentices are not experienced enough to carry out a skilled role

Apprentices are enthusiastic, are keen to progress and tend to pick things up quickly. Apprentices start their employment with no bad habits picked up from previous jobs and develop the skills and behaviours that you prioritise. Many employers are surprised by how quickly Apprentices have a positive impact on the organisation.

  1. Apprenticeships are just for 16 year old school leavers

Actually you can be an apprentice at any age! Although the Government is giving funding priority to 16-23 year olds, anyone over 16 can apply to join an Apprenticeship programme and benefit from being a paid employee in a job role working alongside experienced staff who will train them on the job.

  1. Apprentices will need a lot of training ‘off site’

In certain industries there is a requirement for apprentices to complete some of their training off site however, the licenced trade is not one of them. Depending on the modules being studied the vast majority of the course will be undertaken on your premises. An Apprenticeship is a qualification and to be successful the young person must commit time to study and complete their assignments. Most employers expect their apprentice to do this in quieter work periods or at home.

  1. There is too much bureaucracy involved in running and apprenticeship programme

The amount of bureaucracy the employer gets involved with will be determined by the quality of the training provider. An expert training provider who knows and understands the process will be able to take the majority of the requirements off your hands and skilfully guide you through anything you have to complete. Recruitment, induction and training delivery should be a fluid and productive journey if handled in partnership with a credible Apprentice training provider.


Rachael Fidler is the Managing Director of HTP Training

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