Government calls on pubs to get behind apprentices
PUB and club bosses have been encouraged to take on apprentices aged as young as 16 to help the Government's drive to get the young into work.
About 30 members of the city's licensed trade heard how the Government is pushing for young people to find work in the licensed hospitality trade.
And bar bosses were given a run down on training and qualifications available for apprentices.
The newly named Plymouth Licensing Forum, formerly called Clubwatch, received a presentation by John Melia, from the BII, the professional body for the licensed retail sector, which is tasked with delivering apprenticeships for that sector.
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He told the meeting, at Oceana, in Coxside, that 650,000 people are employed in the UK's licensed trade, including about 100,000 full time.
He said apprenticeships were now seen as a way of "gaining qualifications without the expense" of going to university.
"It's about on-the-job learning," Mr Melia said.
"For young people coming into our industry now it's not just a job but a career."
He said the idea of the apprenticeships was to "professionalise the industry", provide career progression, retain and recruit staff, improve the industry's public image and encourage business start-ups.
Mr Melia gave a through run through of the training and costs involved in the Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeships.
And he explained that an apprentice aged 16 to 18, in the "Government's priority group", can be paid just £2.65 an hour, for a 30-hour week, as an "incentive".
"Over 18 they come back under the national minimum wage framework," he said.
And he stressed Government funding was available at £5,000 per candidate, to pay for training fees because some "classroom" training will be needed, and the cash would go directly to a partner organisation such as a college.
"It's a fantastic deal," he said.
For apprentices aged 19 to 24 the funding drops to just over £3,000, but Mr Melia stressed this was "still a chunk of money".
However, some bar bosses had concerns about employing apprentices as young as 16 in a licensed business.
Mick McDonnell, chairman of Best Bar None, said paying £2.65 an hour "may be an issue" and added: "It's going to be hard to retain people on that."
However, Mr Melia stressed businesses could pay above that level, if they wanted, and added: "It's your shout."
And he said businesses could ensure staff retention by "recruiting the right person".
Gill Locke, owner of Jesters in Union Street, told the meeting she would not employ a 16-year-old in a late-night club.
Her husband Ken Locke added: "We'd rather pay over the going rate and get people that can come straight in. We haven't got time to train people.
"If you take on a young person it's difficult to find them with self-confidence and personality."
Mr Melia, however, stressed such a youngster could work supervised, and need not be employed in bar work.
"Think about cellar management, or food," he said.
He also said the Government was providing an additional £1,500 to assist small businesses recruit an apprentice, with 40,000 such grants available until next April.
"The Government is determined to make this work," he said and recommended any bars interested in the scheme contact BII on 01276 684449 or the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150600.