Winner: Greene King

Major pub retailer and brewer Greene King’s programme has had a significant impact, not just in business but on the local community. As such this has led to higher retention rates within the apprenticeship population and higher engagement scores in the business.

  • The hospitality sector is facing a severe skills shortage, with a shrinking pool of home-grown talent. The result has been to look overseas and rely on migrant workers. The Brexit uncertainty has also had an adverse effect on the sector. So like many employers Greene King has had to refine its apprenticeship programme to attract, retain and develop its future talent pipeline.
  • Greene King invested heavily in its attraction strategy, employing two school and college engagement officers. Their partnerships with the educational establishments have led to work experience opportunities, where students can get a real taste of what it is like to work in the hospitality industry.
  • Around 50% of the apprentices are 16-24-year-olds, so Greene King upskilled its managers, who traditionally feel more comfortable employing candidates with previous experience. All managers are equipped with a Talent Toolkit, which provides them with all the information they need to nurture and develop their talent.
  • The 12-month retention rate for apprentices is 47% higher than for non-apprentices, and the 90-day retention rate is 35% better. All of which lead to increased customer satisfaction, which is linked to higher sales for the business.
  • A few examples of the strategy’s success: 15,268 applications, 95% increase on previous year; a 94% increase in recruited apprentices on last year; recognition from organisations that work with school and college leavers, highlighting that it has increased the awareness of the hospitality industry amongst their students.

Judges’ comments: “Greene King clearly has a long-term vision for their business and appear to be taking a large number of apprentices on this journey.”


  • Able to Enable – Barclays in Partnership with Capp & Co
  • DATS Apprenticeship Scheme – DATS Recruitment
  • Purple People Academy – Learning Curve Group