How choosing Lifetime as an external provider helped reshape Whitbread’s entire training provision.

Since Whitbread chose Lifetime as its external training partner in 2019, the group’s training continues to go from strength to strength. And with 94% of apprentices agreeing their performance has improved as a result of their apprenticeship, its people are too.

Building a programme that unlocks the potential of over 900 people, each year

As one of the UK’s largest hospitality groups, Whitbread has a 35,000-strong workforce across a diverse portfolio built on two core divisions: its hotels and restaurants. It includes the Premier Inn, Brewers Fayre and Beefeater brands, and its unique joint site model means that more than half of its hotels are located next to one of its own restaurant brands.

With an objective to become be the best budget hotel business in the world, Whitbread already has an industry-renowned, award-winning internal learning and development offer. But when choosing to reshape how apprenticeships work using an external provider, Lifetime’s approach and tailored programmes fitted seamlessly with the group’s long-term vision for its people.

Together, we have developed evolving programmes for nearly 1,000 apprentices each year (maintaining a 97% learner engagement rate) unlocking potential for learners all over the UK.

Whitbread has measured impressive results in their apprentice population, reporting a 3% attrition rate for apprentices compared to 139% non-apprentices after 3 months, and a 10% attrition rate for apprentices compared to 40% non-apprentices after 2-3 years. Apprentices are also 2x more likely to be promoted than non-apprentices too.

Developing apprenticeships that are at the heart of Whitbread’s training strategy.

How we seamlessly transferred Whitbread’s training provision in just 45 days

In recent years, Lifetime has worked in collaboration with Whitbread to steer its full apprenticeship programme. In 2019, Lifetime seamlessly transferred more than 700 learners on Level 2 to Level 4 programmes, all over the UK. Working within an ambitious timeframe of just 45 days, we delivered a complex mix of Frameworks and Standards, English and Devolved apprenticeships. 

Fourteen dedicated Whitbread trainers (including the TUPE of 3 existing trainers) were fundamental to the partnership, and meant we could develop, deliver and manage a tailored, strategically robust programme. By complementing Whitbread’s own training and development offer, Lifetime programmes give learners clear career pathways to shape their future in hospitality.

An award-winning apprenticeship programme, that maintained 95% engagement during a global pandemic

The pandemic brought immense challenges to every part of hospitality. But it also presented some unique opportunities, and Whitbread took quick and decisive action to protect the business and position it for long-term success. Alongside many other important measures, it made the decision to continue learning.

Working in close partnership, we successfully adapted its programme delivery so learners could progress in their apprenticeship (95% of its apprentices continued learning during furlough in 2020). Through tailored online tutoring, its colleagues continued to develop the latest industry knowledge and enhance the skillsets to help them thrive through the recovery – and well beyond.

The programme went on to flourish through the pandemic. In September 2020, Whitbread was recognised for the continued support it provided apprentices in response to COVID-19, announced as winners in the National Apprenticeship Awards for Macro Employer of the Year (East Midlands), and was shortlisted as a National Finalist.

Lifetime’s programme impact so far

Whitbread has seen the benefits of switching to Lifetime as its training partner, having traditionally provided training as an internal function of the business. We’re proud that the partnership has already achieved transformative results:

agree they’ve learned new skills to improve in their role
agree the apprenticeship supports future career growth
agree their performance has improved as a result of the apprenticeship

Maintaining momentum: how we’re future proofing apprenticeships at Whitbread

As we begin to surface from the pandemic, Whitbread continues its commitment to excellent learning, using apprenticeships as the prime avenue for colleague development and to recruit new talent. Working together, we’ll grow Whitbread’s programme to over 1,500 apprentices across the business.

Following recent structural changes, Whitbread’s management development programmes are now delivered as apprenticeships to ensure role readiness for future talent. Lifetime launched its first group of Team Leader Level 3 apprentices and its first Level 5 Ops Department Managers earlier this year, which will act as one of Whitbread’s immediate growth drivers following changes to its L&D offering.

The group will also transform learning in the restaurant arm of the business. Apprenticeships haven’t always been available in its restaurants, but this year has seen the successful integration of Whitbread’s Kitchen Skills programmes into Lifetime apprenticeships to provide new opportunities for its people across the business.

It will use Lifetime’s Apprentice Recruitment offering as an opportunity to support its growth and resourcing strategy (and use it as a long-term solution to recruitment and retention challenges). Together, we’ll engage and attract new talent, driving Apprentice Recruitment nationwide across most vacancies to develop Whitbread’s reputation as an early careers' employer.

Moving forward, we'll continue to work together to define a programme that realises our shared vision for future growth through a democracy of opportunity. It’s one that empowers their people, while delivering future-proofed competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.

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Apprenticeships are at the heart of our training strategy and we are proud to offer an apprenticeship programme for all our roles in Premier Inn hotels and restaurant brands, from early for careers to management. So, no matter when or where you join us, you can develop your career through an apprenticeship.

Richard Brooks-Harley, Apprenticeship Delivery Manager at Whitbread

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