High-profile chef Marco Pierre White has backed the launch of a new initiative by Greene King to help young people gain qualifications and careers in the hospitality industry. Pierre White, a former apprentice himself, helped officially launch the pub retailer and brewer’s own Discovery Apprenticeship programme at a masterclass cookery demonstration to celebrate the achievements of some of the first apprentices to qualify. The group said that over 250 employees had already completed apprenticeships, with 425 currently in training. It has plans to extend the programme to over 1,300 further employees in 2012. Jonathan Webster, managing director of Greene King’s Destination Pubs and Restaurants division, said: “Our aim is not to just provide a ‘pub job’ but to offer a clear career path for our employees. Our Discovery Apprenticeship programme allows our employees to gain qualifications while gaining hands-on experience on the job. “We hope our current apprentices will become our house managers, regional managers, development chefs and even directors of the future, and we might even have a future Michelin star rated chef among this crop of apprentices.” The company said that the programme had been introduced to train and develop employees across its c.2,400 estate, including its Hungry Horse and Old English Inn pub chains, Loch Fyne Restaurants and its main brewery site.