People 1st, the sector skills council, has launched a new apprentice scheme which it claims will help more businesses in the hospitality field be able to run their own training schemes. Available now, the new apprenticeship has been extended to 18 specialist areas to accommodate the diverse and specific needs of the hospitality and catering industry. These include apprenticeships for Asian and Oriental Cuisine, Patisserie and Confectionery, as well as Kitchen Services which is suitable for commercially oriented kitchens such as branded high street restaurants, branded contract catering outlets and licensed retail operations that need to focus on brand standards and kitchen control. The development of the new People 1st apprenticeship follows on from the launch of National Skills Academy for Hospitality (NSA) first officially recognised employer-based training programme developed with restaurant group Living Ventures earlier this year. People 1st said that reflecting the changing nature of the hospitality industry, the new apprenticeship offers businesses more flexibility in how they can be delivered – they can be embedded within an organisation’s in-house training scheme, whilst apprentices can progress in their own time or location some of which could be through online delivery of training and assessment. Martin-Christian Kent, director of policy and research at People 1st, said: “Whilst our sector has traditionally had strong apprenticeships, we now have a robust and versatile system that meets individual business needs. "This should prove even more attractive to businesses as they provide the perfect vehicle to tackle specific skills gaps and develop and mould their own staff. "In fact, 80% of businesses employing apprentices report that it has made them more competitive and reduced staff turnover.” He added: “We are delighted that the coalition government has reinforced its commitment to apprenticeships and made this a central plank of their policies. "Apprenticeships provide a tremendous opportunity for the sector to provide structured training to address its skills needs and the latest government announcements provide fresh impetus for sector businesses to take advantage of them.”