Mayor joins top chef Raymond Blanc in food apprenticeships call

06 March 2013

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has joined forces with world renowned chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc to issue a rallying call to the capital’s food and hospitality sectors to take on more young people as apprentices.

The news comes as the Mayor, who pledged to help create 100,000 apprenticeships in the capital by 2012, is set to beat his target with months to spare. Latest figures up to October of last year show the campaign, run in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service, stands at 99,700. The next quarter’s figures are due out later this month and are expected to see a total well in excess of the 100,000 target.

In a sector that employs around 300,000 people in London, both the Mayor and Raymond Blanc believe there is huge potential for more food and hospitality businesses to get involved and help young people get into a sector that offers fantastic careers. Currently there are just under 5,000 apprentices working in the capital’s food industry, which has an annual turnover of around £17 billion a year.

Two star Michelin chef Raymond is the latest big name to give the campaign his full backing, stepping up to the plate by taking on 21 apprentices at Brasserie Blanc restaurants across London and the UK. They will work in a range of hospitality roles including as chefs and front of house staff.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to have someone of Raymond’s calibre spearheading our drive to help the food industry wake up to the power of apprenticeships. From restaurants and bars, to shops and suppliers the capital’s food industry is a booming trade that has huge potential to give thousands of young Londoners their first big break on the career ladder. With 100,000 apprenticeships now under our belt I believe this vibrant sector of our economy can play an increasingly important role in helping to swell that number even further.”

Raymond Blanc said: “As an employer I want to provide a nurturing, caring environment to give young people the very best chance they can have to succeed. it is vital that the restaurant sector has home-grown talent to develop the necessary skill and craft for the future. The National Apprenticeship Service will help you to find the right people and hold your hand through the process to make sure the experience is positive for all parties. I am self-taught and it was tough – I longed for a mentor to guide me through my career so I am 100 per cent behind the Mayor’s drive to bring so many young people into the business and to give them the best chance to excel.”

Vic Grimes, Divisional Apprenticeship Director for the National Apprenticeship Service in London and the South East, said: “The National Apprenticeship Service is delighted that the internationally acclaimed chef, Raymond Blanc is spearheading the importance of Apprenticeships in the food industry. The hospitality and catering sector is crucial to the capital’s economy and in celebrating London as a vibrant, thriving and culturally diverse city.”

The Mayor has launched a marketing campaign to promote the value of apprenticeships to the food industry, with posters and videos of Raymond and some of his culinary apprentices popping up online and at London Underground stations across town.It forms part of a wider campaign to encourage businesses of all sectors to find out about what apprenticeships can offer to businesses and is being run in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service.

National Apprenticeship Week (March 11-15) gets underway next week with a range of events taking place across the capital and the UK. For more information please visit


Notes to editors

The Mayor is committed to ensuring that London leads the way in creating apprenticeships in the capital and working with the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) as of October last year the campaign has seen 99,700 places created since 2010. Figures published later this month are expected to show that the Mayor has comfortably beaten his pledge to create 100,000 places by the end of 2012.

The London Food Board (LFB), chaired by the Mayor’s Food Advisor Rosie Boycott, has been working with the Mayor's apprenticeship team to promote apprenticeships in the food sector. The LFB has identified skills in the food sector as a key issue. The sector in London employs over 300,000 people and has a turnover of £17 billion annually.

Apprenticeships are a great way of attracting new talent to the sector while supporting businesses to develop the skilled workforce they need. The Mayor's Apprenticeship team has identified London's hospitality businesses as a sector with significant capacity to develop new apprentices.The current marketing campaign will encourage London's food businesses to look at taking on apprentices and drive them to the National Apprenticeship Service, which can support them through the process of establishing apprentices in their business.

About Raymond Blanc

Raymond Blanc, 63, is best known as chef-patron and chairman of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, the two-starred Michelin hotel-restaurant in the Oxfordshire village of Great Milton. He has trained some 30 chefs who have gone on to win Michelin stars, though he is a self-taught chef.

Raymond is the founder of Brasserie Blanc (formerly Le Petit Blanc). This French brasserie group now has 19 restaurants following the purchase and conversion of six former Chez Gerard London sites in 2012. The food at Brasserie Blanc is inspired by Raymond’s childhood and the hearty, seasonal French cooking of his mother Maman Blanc. The brasseries are places to ‘enjoy’ food, they are warm, friendly, informal and Raymond says: ‘If Le Manoir is a delicate waltz then Brasserie Blanc is a glorious can-can.’

Raymond is a best-selling author, and his BBC television series have included the Very Hungry Frenchman and Kitchen Secrets. In 2008 Raymond was made an OBE (Officer of the British Empire) by her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of services promoting culinary excellence and for raising awareness of the importance of healthy food as a central element of family life. He is one of only three Frenchmen ever to receive the award.

About the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

The National Apprenticeship Service focuses on increasing the number of apprentices in England. It works with employers to help them introduce apprentices into their businesses, help those looking to start their careers find an Apprenticeship opportunity and contribute towards the costs of the training and qualifications within an Apprenticeship.

It engages with a wide range of partners to help design the frameworks for apprentices and implements all Government policies aimed at setting the high standard of quality Apprenticeships. It promotes excellence in Apprenticeships and vocational training with awards, campaigns and skills competitions including National Apprenticeship Week and WorldSkills UK.

About Apprenticeships

Tailored to suit employers: Apprenticeships have been developed with business, to suit business. Employers can also choose to add on extra learning and knowledge development to suit their specific business requirements.

Improving motivation and efficiency: 80% of those who employ apprentices say they make the workplace more productive and 92% of say they lead to a motivated and satisfied workplace.

Building diversity of skills and perspectives: A diverse workforce brings different skills, experiences and ideas to a business – delivering proven, bottom line benefits for employers.

Improving social responsibility: Recruiting and championing apprentices represents a real contribution to the local community – and helps foster social mobility. 81% of customers would prefer to use a company that employs apprentices.

About the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE 16 to 24)

The government is offering businesses with up to 1,000 employees a grant of up to £1,500 to recruit their first apprentice aged 16 to 24. Initially only on offer during the 2012/13 financial year, this initiative has now been extended for a further year.

Employers who have recruited an apprentice in the past 12 months (on a rolling time period) are not eligible for the grant because its aim is to support employers to offer new and additional Apprenticeships to young people.

The £1,500 grant is in addition to the training costs of the chosen Apprenticeship framework, which are met in full for 16-18 year olds and 50% for those aged 19-24. Employers will be required to commit to employing an apprentice for a minimum of 12 months, or the time it takes for the apprentice to complete their programme.