Costa south west

Costa Coffee continues to share its experiences of implementing a bespoke modern apprenticeship/ NVQ training programme. This month, regional learning and development manager Helen Thompson brings us up to date and introduces feedback from some of the staff involved

In the November issue, we announced our introduction of what is believed to be the first bespoke modern apprenticeship/NVQ programme of its kind within the hospitality sector in the UK.

It was started as a pilot across our South West region last July, and Costa has since launched a second phase involving 20 more candidates in the South East.

In this issue, I’d like to focus on the South West region – first, because this is where we began our journey, and second, because six of our candidates there are about to complete their NVQ level 2.

The success of the programme, designed in conjunction with Acorn Learning Solutions, has always relied on total commitment and buy-in from our staff. Despite a few initial jitters, we now have a group of people on board who astound me more and more with their enthusiasm every time I get a chance to chat with them.

And what is really encouraging is that we have been inundated with requests from staff wanting to sign up for the programme from this year.

Progress within the various stores has been amazing. Not only has the level of awareness among individuals dramatically increased across the brand, but so too has their level of confidence.

We’ve also had some valuable insights from our team which we’ve taken to heart and will be incorporating into the programme when it is rolled out across the UK early next year. We have shared some of this with you below.

Until then, we’ll be hard at work analysing the data from the questionnaire filled in by each employee on the pilot programme. It asked for their thoughts and likes and dislikes of the programme so far. We look forward to reporting on these findings in our next instalment.

Ni Perry, store manager, 42, from Worcester has been with Costa Coffee for two and a half years. Prior to this she spent five years as a conference and banqueting manager at Worcester Rugby Club.

“I was very excited at the prospect of getting involved in the pilot of the Costa Coffee modern apprenticeship/NVQ programme, having had previous catering and hospitality experience and exposure to NVQs.

“As a manager, you naturally have more responsibility for ‘controllables’ – the welfare of staff and the overall budget of the store – and I was keen to see how this would be reflected in the programme.

“I have found the workload very manageable, and it is great to see how the content reinforces my existing knowledge and reflects the demands made upon me within the business.

“By experiencing the programme first-hand, I have been able to assess the training modules for the day to day needs of team members and team leaders, and now realise that more time could be allocated to complete the various tasks within the workplace.

“Once formalised, I believe the programme will be a great recruitment tool for the business – both by attracting people who are committed to the industry, and by boosting the level of confidence and ability across the stores.

“I am very keen to continue my learning journey as the programme develops.”

With only a few days left to go, Ni is currently the only member of the seven-strong Worcester store team undergoing training, but hopes to recruit two more apprentices for the programme early in the New Year.

Rosie Thompson (no relation) 24 and originally from Guildford, Surrey, now lives in Cornwall and has spent the past 11 months as a team leader at the Costa store in Truro

“I’ve always enjoyed learning new skills, so I jumped at the chance to participate in the pilot scheme.

“With previous experience in restaurant supervision and exposure to NVQs, I knew that obtaining the necessary support from Costa and Acorn was critical for success.”

“I approached the programme as a challenge right from the start – even if this meant taking work home to complete if a shift was very hectic.

“Most of the staff at our store are doing the NVQ level 2, and it’s great to see everyone getting stuck in – from management right down to team member level.


“Once it’s rolled out nationally, the programme will be a great way for staff to gain qualifications while they work, and I would advise everyone to consider it. When the course finishes this month, I am keen to enrol for the next level, and would like to get more involved in the training side of the business.”

Sarah Knights, 20 from Truro, has been a full-time team member at the Truro store since March.

“After spending six months travelling in Australia, I was very keen to start permanent employment straight away.

“Within a short time of my joining Costa, the pilot scheme was launched and this seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to learn while I work. The programme would also give me the necessary back-up to my existing knowledge and help me in my career development.

“I am really enjoying the challenge, and the workload – though more than I’d anticipated – is worth taking on as it will help me advance to team leader and then manager in the future.”

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