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Apprenticeships in food and drink: SSP UK, Compass Group and Budweiser

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6 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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Last month, some of the most exciting businesses came together at Food Matters Live’s Inspiring Careers in Food event to speak about the apprenticeships in food and drink they run across a wide range of areas in foodservice and drinks production. From culinary and operational roles in bustling restaurants, bars and cafés, to technician and engineering positions at a world-renowned brewery, employers took to the stage to explore the wealth of opportunities apprenticeships can offer.


Calling themselves ‘the food travel experts’, SSP UK run a range of restaurants and cafés in airports, train stations, airports and motorway services. Operating over 550 brands that they own or franchise across more than 2,600 locations in 36 countries, the company is a hub for opportunity, Eunji Choi, UK Operations Training Manager at SSP UK, explained at the event. Working with Not Going to University, SSP wants to encourage more young people to seek out the exciting careers that are available to them without needing a university degree.

Starting your career at the company will open the door to the rewarding world of hospitality, according to Eunji. “It’s hard work but there’s a lot of heart and good people in hospitality. People are the reason I stuck around.” Eunji is an example of how undertaking an apprenticeship can take you far in your career. During her time at SSP UK, she enrolled onto the Level 5 Management apprenticeship, which took her from working as an Assistant Manager at Starbuck’s to running five units in three locations. “It helped me and stretched me a lot, and gave me experiences and knowledge,” she said. Last year, she moved to a new operations role in Learning and Development, proving just how varied the work in hospitality can be.

Earlier this year, SSP UK joined ‘The 5% Club’, meaning it must commit to increasing the number of apprenticeships, graduates, and sponsored students to 5% of the company’s total workforce. It is the first hospitality company to join the initiative, according to Eunji, and with plans now in place to expand its wider apprenticeship programme in March, there’s never been a better time to apply for an apprenticeship at SSP.

“Given the size and scope of our business, we have ample opportunity in entry level jobs and apprenticeships,” Eunji said. Some of the roles could be culinary, bar team leader, bar team member or barista roles, to name a few, and could be located in cafés, restaurants, bars, retail stores such as Marks & Spencer’s, or warehouses.

Still unsure about whether an apprenticeship will be worth it? Eunji says:“If you’re looking to broaden your horizons, there are so many things you can do [with apprenticeships].

“One advice from me, even if you’re terrified, is go and do it!”.

Head to the careers section of the company website to find out more about the apprenticeships available.

Compass Group

Being an organisation worth £25.8 billion with half a million employees worldwide and serving 180.9 million meals a year across 6,000 client locations, Compass Group is an enormous company with a huge impact. Serving food and drink to hospitals, universities, schools and colleges, and even Premier League football stadiums, it plays a vital role in making sure millions of us are fed well everyday.

When it comes to apprenticeships at Compass, opportunities are available in several areas including culinary, operations, and events among others. Courses are available at Levels 2, 3 and higher degree-equivalent levels. Apprentices will be supported throughout their training with onboarding and induction plans specifically designed for each role, online learning resources to help apprentices learn on the move, and development workshops which are run by a range of experts from across the company.

It’s a great time to join the industry, Chris Chidley, Chief Growth Officer at Compass explained during the event.“The industry has never been crying out for talent as much as it is now,” he said. “It’s a brilliant opportunity to get in where you want to when there’s loads of vacancies, because that’s where you’re going to flourish.You have the chance to climb the ladder really quickly or just to find a really good business.”

Take a look at Compass Group’s jobs board to find out more about the apprenticeships available.


Another company looking to hire new talent is Budweiser. At Inspiring Careers in Food, the employers spoke about the vacancies for technician apprentices in the Drinks Dispense unit and the brewery apprenticeships.

Located in Wolverhampton, a technician apprenticeship at the Drinks Dispense unit will involve learning how to install and maintain draft beer equipment for the company. The role could take you across the country, and involve work in a range of different and exciting environments. The installation could take place in any one of the 39,000 licensed venues in pubs, clubs, or big sites like Wimbledon, Wembley, or the O2 in London, and gives apprentices the chance to see behind the scenes at a range of national events and facilities.

The apprenticeships in Drinks Dispense take 18 months to complete, featuring a mixture of college study and on the job mentoring to help you be as prepared as possible for the first steps in your career. They also take place in their site in Wolverhampton, with the majority of college study offered at the City of Wolverhampton College.

Budweiser’s aim is to become the top service provider for draft beer in the industry, and apprentices are key to helping it achieve it. “We’re really committed to putting fresh blood into the industry and apprenticeships is really the way to go,” Peter Amor, Divisional Manager at Budweiser Brewing Group explained during the event.

The company also offers several brewery apprenticeships at the Magor Brewery in South Wales. These apprenticeships are four years long, with the first year being spent at college, to help apprentices get an understanding of whether they are more comfortable building electrical or mechanical skills. After this, they then spend the remaining years working at the brewery, hopping between different departments to get a sense of what area they like the best. At the end of the apprenticeship, it’s possible to apply to go into a full time role, or to go into further education via another apprenticeship or study a degree at university.

There are plenty of areas to explore at the brewery, from engineering and operational roles to forklift driving and management. Budweiser is looking to upskill people who are looking for the chance to enter a stable, long-term career.

Applications have just opened for Budweiser’s apprenticeships in the Drinks Dispense unit. If successful in the initial application, prospective candidates will be invited to interview in July and August, with the training course commencing in September. For the brewery apprenticeships, applications open in June, followed by by a short assessment and interview at the Magor Brewery in person. Keep an eye on the ABInbev website in the coming months to apply.

Find out about roles in the food sectors, and get tips and information about the career of your future with Food Matters Live’s free Inspiring Careers in Food guide.

The Inspiring Careers in Food Guide offers an unmissable opportunity to reach your target audience. Improve your Employer Brand Awareness, promote your opportunities to the future talent of the F&B industry, and spotlight the fantastic career pathways available with your business.


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