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Apprentice of the Year 2022

Employer of the Year 2022

Apprentices Hall of Fame


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    Zoe Clack

    Technical Brewer at Heineken (former Apprentice Brewer at Greene King)

    Category: Hospitality Apprentice of the Year - Sponsored by Institute of Hospitality

    “With guidance from my HIT Training Consultant Sam Monaghan, I became an immediate asset to the business by improving my skillset and knowledge.”

    Why an apprenticeship?

    I was working as a Tours Manager in the brewing industry but had always been interested in the production side of things. In the summer of 2018, I was working at a Greene King event where I met their head brewer Ross O’Hara and we began talking all things beer. That Autumn I went to work for a craft brewery in The Netherlands and in March 2020 (just as Covid started), Ross got in touch to say that he was looking for an apprentice brewer and asked if I’d be interested. Whilst I loved being a Tours Manager, this opportunity seemed too good to be true so I applied, got the job, and I was back in the UK in November 2020 – just as we were heading into lockdown 2.0! I knew a Level 4 brewing apprenticeship was my big chance to immerse myself in the world of brewing, and Greene King, one of Britain’s leading brewers, would be a fantastic place to learn. With guidance from my HIT Training Consultant Sam Monaghan, I became an immediate asset to the business by improving my skillset and knowledge, and within a short amount of time on my apprenticeship, I was quickly assisting with a project to design and brew new recipes which was so exciting.

    Benefitting my business

    Not only did the apprenticeship allow me to learn how to brew, but it also taught me great problem-solving skills which are very useful in the manufacturing world. The brewing process is relatively straightforward however things can go wrong quickly so it’s crucial to be able to think on your feet. In the pursuit of gaining more responsibility and making life easier for our team, I was given the task of helping to look after the operations of the craft brewing plant at Greene King.

    Through the learning in my apprenticeship, I was able to brew and monitor the fermentation of our beers, keep a detailed cellar tracker, including how to keep our stock up-to-date, and maintain high standards of cleanliness. Working in production while undertaking an apprenticeship gave me the flexibility to work on my practical brewing skills as well as develop my technical knowledge. These skills helped me to create a new portfolio of craft beers for Greene King - launched just as I completed the apprenticeship! Together with the invaluable communication and teamwork skills I learned during my apprenticeship, I have also built a fantastic network of contacts within the brewing industry and this, without a doubt, has contributed to more career progression opportunities.

    The HIT Training difference

    I’ve now started a new job with different responsibilities, and still use my HIT apprenticeship brewing knowledge and problem-solving skills every day. Starting at a new brewery has allowed me to learn the ins and outs of a different set up and systems, and I’ve been able to adapt more quickly as a result of my apprenticeship. Whereas at Greene King I was helping to design and brew new recipes, I’m now part of a technical team helping to ensure that our products are brewed to the best quality. I’d highly recommend the Brewer Apprenticeship to anyone interested in brewing. While it’s a very male dominated industry, it’s also incredibly friendly and collaborative and I hope more females join the industry. My personal career goal is to run my own craft brewery and become head brewer one day – and that would never have been possible without Greene King and the invaluable training I received through HIT Training.

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    Jodie Plummer

    Senior Sous Chef at Compass Group UK & Ireland

    Category: Chef Apprentice of the Year

    “I feel empowered to pursue my goal as a Development Chef and mentor for our trainee chefs and I truly believe this is possible thanks to the training I’ve received.”

    Why an apprenticeship?

    I manage the hospitality and fine dining kitchen at a leading financial services firm in the city through our Restaurant Associates business – which is a premium hospitality brand, providing workplace catering. My role is to create seasonal concepts and fine dining dishes with my team of ten. It’s an exciting and diverse role as we cover lots of different events, including bowl food, simple sandwich lunches and fine dining three course meals – with events ranging from small and intimate gatherings to catering for hundreds of people.

    I was nominated by my culinary lead for the ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme when it launched in the Summer of 2021. I decided to go for it because I wanted to continue learning and progressing in my career. Although I was nervous about applying, it seemed like such a unique and exciting opportunity that I had to have a go. I was thrilled when my application was accepted - I haven’t looked back!

    Benefitting my business

    Working with the HIT Training Chef Academy during my apprenticeship, has really taught me what it takes to excel in my role. The course truly inspired me and gave me lots of innovative ideas and skills to bring back to my kitchen and use on a day-to-day basis. The learning has empowered me to take more control and run the hospitality kitchen myself. It’s given me the skills and confidence to take on menu innovation and share the learnings with my team.

    The plant forward and ground up cookery workshops inspired me to really look at utilising our waste products, for example we now use leftover coffee grounds in our brownies, and porridge oats to make ice-cream and zero waste muffins. I have also been preserving more with my team, using British seasonal produce and stretching the seasons through processes like fermenting or making pickles and jams, or freezing. This means I am introducing more British produce to the restaurant wherever possible and highlighting to my team why this is important.

    As well as gaining so much more confidence in my professional skills within the kitchen, I’ve also learnt about other aspects of this this role, including finance, sales and marketing. Plus, communication and presentation skills have helped me grow as a leader.

    The HIT Training difference

    The HIT team is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they are teaching. The online classes and practical workshops are brilliant and the tutors are always there to support you. They have helped me strengthen my weaker points, such as finance, by providing full support to enable me to gain the skills and confidence to pass this part of the course.

    I also had the opportunity to get involved with various events, and other projects such as photo shoots for marketing. I am passionate about developing my own team and now feel more able to support them with new opportunities to learn and progress, helping them to keep moving up the ladder. I’ve learnt to carefully consider how to appropriately delegate tasks to team members, ensuring they have every chance to improve their skills and have proper guidance. In my own career, I feel empowered to pursue my goal in development where I am able to create seasonal British menus that focus on using every part of the ingredient possible and can be used in multiple sites across the company.

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    Matthew Lacey

    LEAD at Nike, Designer Outlet Cheshire Oaks

    Category: Retail Apprentice of the Year

    “My HIT apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to not only improve myself but also impact the careers of those I work with.”

    Why an apprenticeship?

    After studying acting at university for three years, I moved back to my home town and started working at the Cheshire Oaks Nike Store. As soon as I got the job, I really felt at home. It was such a positive environment to be in. Everyone who worked there wanted each other to succeed no matter what they were doing, and during the first three years I worked at Nike, I had so much time invested into myself with regards to excelling in the brand. When I was offered the chance to do an apprenticeship, it was a great opportunity to further my knowledge within the retail environment and pursue a management career with Nike. The Level 2 Retailer apprenticeship has opened doors at every level from a store perspective and head office.

    Benefitting my business

    During my initial role as an Athlete [customer service] at Nike, I grew in confidence thanks to the apprenticeship and support from my Nike line manager. I was picked to travel to London to participate in the setting up and opening of a brand new store which gave me invaluable retail experience. When I was promoted to a supervisor role, known as a LEAD at Nike, I became responsible for looking after the service department throughout the store. This role required me to develop my leadership skills, and it was important to improve my understanding of the different commercial aspects of the business. With guidance from my HIT Training Consultant, Emily, I learnt how to effectively upscale myself and the individuals around me so that we were all working to the highest possible standard as a team.

    Furthermore, when I applied for the LEAD promotion, I was able to call on the knowledge I’d learned in the apprenticeship to design a 90-day training development plan which I presented during interview to show my passion for the brand. I was able to demonstrate my ability to consider the business needs and forecast ways in which the store can progress. The apprenticeship also helped me contribute towards the performance of the business by designing a Retail Calendar for the store which incorporates upcoming initiatives with mannequins and improves communications between the store and the commercial team. This means we can effectively plan ahead and develop ideas for hot products.

    The HIT Training difference

    My learning journey with HIT Training has taken my confidence to new heights! Putting my ideas directly into practice allowed me to ask those tough questions of what I have not done well enough so I can improve next time. Emily helped me to critique my own performance and put me on the path to becoming a great leader. She even mentored me before my promotion interview. Through the success of my apprenticeship journey, I’ve learned how a traditional business operates compared with how Nike runs on a day-to-day basis. This has allowed me to analyse what can be done differently and develop ways to evolve the store. My apprenticeship has given me the opportunity to not only improve myself but also impact the careers of those I work with by hopefully inspiring colleagues to work to the highest standard possible. I hope to enrol on Level 3 Retail Team Leading once my End Point Assessment is complete and create even more career opportunities.

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    Betty Otton

    Assistant Manager at The Bridge Inn

    Category: Leadership Apprentice of the Year - Sponsored by Get My First Job

    “The training has truly impacted how I motivate team members and lead by example to drive high levels of performance and commitment.”

    Why an apprenticeship?

    I was having lunch with my Nana in The Bridge Inn and telling her about the rota at my then-workplace when the manager of the pub came over and asked me if I wanted to work there. He handed me a business card and I thought it’s not very often that you get asked if you want a job out of the blue, so I called up the following day. I ended up working there part-time for the next few years in between au-pairing abroad. Then, when Covid hit, I started working at the pub on a full-time basis. I proved myself to be a strong leader during the Eat Out To Help Out government scheme and was then offered the role of assistant manager. After a year, I felt sure I wanted to pursue a career in hospitality and make a positive difference to the people living and working in our community so I asked my boss if I could do an apprenticeship and gain a formal qualification. HIT Training was recommended so I enrolled on the Level 3 Hospitality Supervisor apprenticeship to enrich my skills and become a better leader.

    Benefitting my business

    As well as the development of leadership skills, it was important for me to improve my understanding of the commercial and financial aspects of the business. With guidance from my HIT Training consultant, Naomi, I learned about the relevant legislation associated with serving alcohol, latest health and safety regulations as well as learning new management tools which transformed the way we organised shift sections. With 15 staff to manage, better organisation resulted in happier team members who were able to call on the knowledge I was gaining in my apprenticeship when needed. My learning even inspired me to take a course to gain my personal license which means I can cover the bar on my own when my manager is away.

    The apprenticeship taught me a lot about managing a team, reassuring and motivating people, remaining respectful and taking ideas on board as well as introducing further structure to the business such as stock counts and cleaning checklists. The training also inspired me to take ownership of ideas such as introducing a marquee to the outdoor space at the pub which required researching and sourcing new furnishings including lighting, music, furniture, and decorations to provide a luxurious outdoor dining environment. I initiated an Italian-themed cookery demonstration for 15 secondary children to raise the profile of the pub within the community and encourage repeat business. I also organised a team-bonding event which involved trialling cocktails and analysing different price points which resulted in the launch of the pub’s first cocktail menu. Another idea which I led on was leafletting a new housing development nearby to advertise mid-week discounts on food which proved a huge success in introducing new customers to the business.

    The HIT Training difference

    Through the success of my learning journey, I’ve developed a passion for helping those reporting to me by engaging with their career development and hopefully inspiring them to better themselves. Having Naomi to motivate me was brilliant and I loved the Zoom calls with other learners with different job roles, backgrounds and life goals. Naomi always made sure workshops were recorded so I could fit them around my day job and access truly enlightening workshops that opened my eyes to future career possibilities. The training has truly impacted how I motivate team members and lead by example to drive high levels of performance and commitment. I really hope to continue my learning journey with a higher level apprenticeship and build on the life-changing leadership skills I’ve learned.

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    Joe Cullin

    Head Brewer at Brewhouse and Kitchen

    Category: Extra Mile Apprentice of the Year - Sponsored by Professional Assessment Ltd

    “As I grew in knowledge and confidence, I was invited to run a site in Chester which meant taking full responsibility for running my own brewery towards the end of my apprenticeship.”

    Why an apprenticeship?

    My love of beer started in my early 20s when I was bar manager at a pub in Bristol. Part of my role was introducing guest beers and I got a taste for it! After university, I moved in with some friends in Southampton and got a job in Brewhouse and Kitchen. As part of the training there, everyone takes part in a brewery experience day where you get to know how beer is made. I fell in love with brewing there and then. That night I bought a home brew kit from Wilko and made my very first beer! I’ve been an avid homebrewer ever since and after 18 months working at Brewhouse and Kitchen, the general manager asked if I’d like to apply for a Level 4 Brewer Apprenticeship. I jumped at the chance of getting a nationally recognised qualification and furthering my career in an industry I love.

    Benefitting my business

    The apprenticeship with HIT Training not only furthered my learning in brewing but also helped me grow as a person. For some years, I have struggled with mental health issues and depression, and I felt extremely lucky to have such a fantastic support group within Brewhouse and Kitchen and HIT Training to help me better myself and achieve a distinction.

    When I started the apprenticeship, I was an Apprentice Brewer in Southsea, being mentored by one of the longest-serving brewers in the company. As I grew in knowledge and confidence, I was invited to head up a site in Chester towards the end of my apprenticeship which meant taking full responsibility for running my own brewery allowing me to use my teachings in a real-world environment. The relocation was a huge challenge for me but with the support of my colleagues and HIT Training, I did it!

    I’m now Head Brewer and it’s been amazing to put my apprenticeship to use. Importantly, I’ve learned how to adapt to situations in the brewery using knowledge of what procedures are implemented in other, larger breweries to solve and troubleshoot issues. My confidence has increased so much that I now put our beers forward for awards, recently winning Bronze at the SIBA North West Beer Awards. Enjoying the freedom and creativity of brewing craft beers is a dream for me and I would like to further my studies and possibly do my Masters in Brewing to further refine my craft and help train a new generation of brewers.

    The HIT Training difference

    Thanks to the training provided by my mentor, the lecturers at Nottingham University, my higher ups, and the people at HIT Training, I am now ready to start mentoring my own apprentice using the skills and knowledge I have gained over the past two years. With the guidance of Natalija from Brewhouse and Kitchen, Mark Tetlow, Steve Wood, Oli Kutylowski and HIT Training Consultant Carrie Woodhead, I’m no longer scared of not making progress and have come to realise that any progress is progress and a step in the right direction. They helped motivate me when I felt helpless and played a huge part in my distinction award – it really is something I never believed possible at the beginning of the apprenticeship! In summary, my learning journey with HIT Training has built my confidence, knowledge, and appreciation of my craft in a stress-free, supportive environment. All whilst putting me in touch with some of the industry’s leading authorities in their field, giving me the perfect head start to a, hopefully, successful career in brewing.

Employers Hall of Fame


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    Yorebridge House

    Yorebridge House has developed a suite of apprenticeships at every level to sustain the training needs of the team and benefit the business

    Category: Small to Medium Employer of the Year - Sponsored by The British Institute of Innkeeping

    Yorebridge House is a 5 Star, 3 AA Rosette boutique hotel in the heart of Wensleydale in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Dedicated to sharing a passion for luxury and fine dining, the team prides itself on providing a personal and professional service from the moment guests arrive.

    General Manager Sophie Shotton has been with the hotel for ten years and initiated a partnership with leading hospitality training provider HIT Training to help attract apprentices to the area and encourage more people to learn valuable skills through on-the-job training.

    Through this partnership, Yorebridge House has implemented a suite of apprenticeships ranging from L2 Hospitality Team Member, L3 Hospitality Supervisor, L3 Chef de Partie, L4 Hospitality Manager, L5 Operations Manager and L7 Senior Leader (MBA equivalent).

    Sophie said: “Recruitment is always challenging due to our rural location and it was only when we saw local authority advertisements inviting businesses to apply for grants that we thought of introducing apprenticeships. At first we thought we wouldn’t be eligible for a grant but our application was successful and we were able to fund our first apprenticeship cohort, including myself. Ten years on, we haven’t looked back.

    “We chose HIT because all the training consultants and assessors come from hospitality backgrounds which gives them a unique insight into operational challenges our apprentices might face and give sound advice to help.”

    The apprenticeship programme at Yorebridge House is now firmly embedded in the business’s learning and development strategy. They currently have five apprentices on programme covering front to back-of-house and a L7 Senior Leader which Sophie is undertaking alongside her managerial role.

    “Apprenticeships play a pivotal part in attracting local, young people to roles which they may not have considered as long term career prospects before,” said Sophie. “A lot of our recruits also come from outside the area in search of new opportunities to learn.

    “With training programmes lasting at least 12 months, it has, without a doubt, helped secure team members for at least the duration of their course. In many cases apprentices have stayed on after this and taken on further training to progress within the company.

    “We have even purchased a staff house where apprentices live which has proven instrumental in keeping people on board, especially with the current cost of living crisis. It is always full!”

    Training opportunities have also helped apprentices view the business from a different perspective.

    “As part of their training, apprentices research and evaluate areas of the business which may not have been relevant if they were not enrolled on the apprenticeship – and this has helped drive business strategies. For example, one of our apprentices has been looking at ways to upsell tea and coffee. Another has been researching different costings of luxury toiletries as part of a work-based project.

    “Being able to specialise in areas relevant to their job roles as well as develop all-round hospitality skills and knowledge is invaluable to us as a business. Apprentices also study health and safety topics as well as great customer service and this has definitely benefited our business in terms of year on year repeat custom.

    “We take the view that continual investment in staff and encouraging a healthy work/life balance will eventually rid the industry of negative stereotypes associated with hospitality such as long hours and lack of career progression. Continuous learning is key to building careers and all our apprentices are given the opportunity to progress to the next level on completion. Although we like to keep our apprentices, we also want them to gain the knowledge and skills they need to progress in their careers outside of our business – and this is something we are passionate about.”

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    Compass Group UK & Ireland

    “As an organisation, we want to take our apprenticeships to the next level and inspire our chefs to go far beyond their own milestones. By working closely with esteemed chef Marcus Wareing and HIT Training, we have created something we’re all incredibly proud of.”

    Category: Large Employer of the Year - Sponsored by Hospitality Jobs UK

    As the UK’s leading food and support services provider, Compass Group UK & Ireland operates in over 6,000 locations across the country and employs tens of thousands of talented people that provide expert catering, cleaning and facilities management services to a range of clients and sectors across England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

    In 2021, Compass launched a landmark culinary programme in collaboration with Michelin starred chef Marcus Wareing and one of the UK’s leading hospitality training providers HIT Training. Known as ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’, the programme aims to develop a new generation of culinary leaders and forms a unique partnership that has proved exceptionally successful.

    The trailblazing programme, which runs alongside a Level 4 Senior Culinary Chef or Level 5 Operations Departmental Manager apprenticeship standard, delivers state-of-the-art training that focuses on sustainability, creating a more diverse kitchen brigade in terms of ethnicity and gender, developing mental first aider skills, mentoring and analysis of different leadership styles and outcomes.

    Head of Apprenticeships and Early Careers at Compass Group UK & Ireland, Jonathan Foot, comments:

    “‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ is a cutting-edge culinary training programme which looks beyond cooking techniques to the social and commercial workings of the kitchen, and the realities of the climate crisis and food system.

    “We are delighted that our strong collaborative partnership with HIT Training is continuing to evolve and grow, and that together we have created this unique and hugely successful programme of learning which has been designed to stretch and challenge whilst giving a career-enhancing experience to all participants.

    “As an organisation, we want to take our apprenticeships to the next level and inspire our chefs to express their creativity and always go above and beyond. By working closely with both esteemed chef Marcus Wareing and HIT Training, we have created something we’re all incredibly proud of.”

    Apprentices on the ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme benefit from a range of experiences including field trips where they are exposed to different culinary aspects such as cooking over fire, foraging and fermentation to bring points of difference to their cooking and explore ways to preserve the seasons through food. They are also given the opportunity to attend away days organised by both Compass and the HIT Training Chef Academy.

    “The breadth of experiences to complement the programme is exemplary and includes important elements that will benefit the future careers of our apprentices,” added Jonathan. “To celebrate the programme, apprentices recently put on a "walkabout" showcase lunch to explain to the company what they had learned. This was held at a partner hotel, The Grove in Hertfordshire, where vegan food, foraged food, a course made purely from waste and trimming, and fermented food and drinks were all showcased.”

    The ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme currently has 31 apprentices on programme. In addition, a staggering 600 apprentices are in training or in the process of being signed up to other apprenticeships within Compass Group UK & Ireland covering culinary, front-of-house and management.

    “For those apprentices who have completed their apprenticeship, 72% remain in our business,” said Jonathan. “It’s a figure which proves how investment in apprenticeship training and supporting the skills development of our existing employees attracts new talent to our business as well as career progression.

    “It’s something we are truly passionate about and why the ‘Forward with Marcus Wareing’ programme is crucial to our future goals.

    “Looking ahead, our training aspirations for the future are all linked to our social mobility campaign which focuses on supporting anyone, no matter what their background, onto the first rung of the career ladder at Compass. We look forward to working with HIT Training on future projects.”

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    JoJo Maman Bébé

    “As a B-Corp company, JoJo lives by its values of people, planet and profit and utilises apprenticeships within these values.”

    Category: Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year - Sponsored by Professional Assessment Ltd

    JoJo Maman Bébé is a multi-channel maternity wear and baby clothing retailer with stores in the United Kingdom. Founded as a mail-order seller in 1993, it is a company that puts people first.

    JoJo began a partnership with one of the UK’s leading providers of retail apprenticeships and vocational training, HIT Training, with the aim of upskilling not just their own but the industry as a whole.

    As a B-Corp company, JoJo lives by its values of people, planet and profit and utilises apprenticeships within these values to support their teams with growth beyond their stores if needed.

    JoJo’s Head of Learning and Development Jill Faulkner is a huge advocate for learning, upskilling and supporting everyone with their growth, saying 'it isn't just retail' as people believe and 'fall into', it is an industry that teaches life skills.

    “We set out to ensure our teams achieve a recognised qualification that allows them to show off their newly learnt knowledge, skills and behaviours,” said Jill. “Our apprenticeship programme with HIT supports us with that ethos even further.”

    JoJo has an 80% distinction rate which reflects the amazing internal structure, support and communication they have with all things apprenticeships. Currently, they have 23 employees on programmes ranging from retail, facilities management and learning and development mentor.

    The company allows their employees to learn from the business by enabling apprentices to go to head office, shadow specialists and spend days with factory teams. Mentor support is excellent and learners are encouraged to get involved in additional workloads to enhance their learning - again, this is reflected in their end-point assessment scores.

    On a local and international level, JoJo is incredibly active too and their ways of working closely reflect what it takes to be a B-Corp.

    Their Helping Hands charity initiative is designed to shine a spotlight on the causes that matter to their staff and customers by providing much-needed cash grants of up to £15,000. And, over the last seven years, their ‘From a Mother to Another’ recycling initiative has potentially saved 70 tonnes of baby and children’s clothing from going to waste by facilitating the delivery of donated parcels to families in need in the UK and Ireland.

    Through Covid and beyond, JoJo re-launched their embroidered rainbow sleepsuit to support the NHS with all proceeds going to the Manchester Foundation Trust Charity. So far, they have raised nearly £25,000.

    Internationally, JoJo encourages their factories abroad to get involved in local charity initiatives. Through one of their suppliers in India, they support a charity called Many Hands with their social enterprise project ‘Pink Speak’.

    At a local level, they support food banks and encourage staff to volunteer in their local community.

    “One member of the team volunteers his own time to go to the local cat home and care for them and similarly another does the same with a local dog trust,” said Jill, who’s also a dog lover. “We focus a lot of energy on supporting everyone inside and outside the business.”

    Equality, diversity and inclusion is echoed throughout all areas with the business striving to represent the diverse communities they serve. Baby models are chosen locally and as a Disability Awards Best Employer, JoJo are proud to partner with WorkFit, the Down’s Syndrome Association’s employment programme.

    Five of their permanent employees have Down’s Syndrome, one of which, Sammy-Jo, nominated JoJo for the Disability Awards Best Employer Award which they won in 2014 and 2019.