Two years on from the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, the apprenticeship evolution within Starbucks has reflected a shift across the sector.

Starbucks, one of the world’s largest coffee brands has successfully used apprenticeships to upskill partners in its retail sites from barista to manager and now offers a suite of programmes up to Level 7 for its head office colleagues.

Starbucks now opens a new store every 14 hours across the Europe Middle East and Arica (EMEA) region. This global brand has successfully used apprenticeships to underpin this growth and now uses its UK based operations model to lead the rest of Europe in how to use work-based training to develop and retain a workforce.

Initially, one of the biggest challenges faced by Starbucks were the perceptions of apprenticeships within the hospitality industry as many questioned the validity of using a Level 2 programme to upskill or re-skill entry level colleagues. But Starbucks used apprenticeships to attract young talent into the business and create a pipeline of talent across the business.

In partnership with Remit Group, Starbucks has delivered apprenticeships to more than 1,500 partners and saw the first higher level apprenticeship graduate in 2018.

While the introduction of the levy has allowed Starbucks to broaden its offering, this wasn’t an exercise in how to spend the funds but rather how to respond to changing business needs.

Russell Butcher, Senior Manager- Education and Skills at Starbucks, explains, “We have never tried to build an apprenticeship programme in order to be able to spend our levy bill, but rather to react to and answer a business need. This approach has now led to complete career paths that include our head office, which is underpinned by a suite of professional services programmes.”

“It hasn’t been all plain-sailing, but the levy and the associated new policies have brought much needed flexibility, allowing Starbucks to offer training to any age and provided an opportunity for us to innovate and re-set our skills strategy. This has meant that apprenticeships are now the platform on which we can offer greater value to our network of franchisees.”

“Apprenticeships have been one of our biggest success stories across the UK, with so many being retained, reallocated to other areas of the business or promoted once they achieve.”

Since the creation of the award-winning Starbucks apprenticeship programme, the results are very positive. Over 20% of Barista apprentices have since progressed to Supervisor level and 23% of Level 3 Management apprentices have progressed from Supervisor to Store Manager.

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