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Apprentices key to success for award-winning Staffordshire restaurant

Bosses at an award-winning Staffordshire restaurant are backing National Apprenticeship Week by calling on businesses and individuals to think differently about apprenticeships.

Carl Lavery, head of catering operations at Aston Marina in Stone has supported the development of a long line of apprentices over the last five years and says it is a critical part of their business.

Carl said:

“This year’s theme for National Apprenticeship Week is Skills for Life. It highlights how apprenticeships can help people with the skills and knowledge needed for a rewarding career while helping businesses develop a talented, future-proof workforce.

“For us, it’s about investing in not only the future of our business but the local community.  Recruiting apprentices is certainly our preferred option because we can mould their skills and approach so that they can be the very best ambassadors for our brand and Staffordshire.  We’ve taken on people of all ages as apprentices and it works for us.”

The restaurant received a £1,000 grant from the Staffordshire Means Back to Business support scheme last year to support their new apprentices, including 17-year-old Shizelle Veldman.

Shizelle said:

“I’m almost at the end of my apprenticeship and so pleased that I took this route.  I’m learning real skills in the real world as well as the theory to back it all up.

“Apprenticeships certainly are not the easy route, which many people think.  It’s hard work but you gain so much more.  Now I’m mentoring new members of staff – so I’m now helping the next generation of chefs.”

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White, said:

“It’s hugely encouraging that our programme to support businesses and individuals with the skills they need is really paying off.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to perfect real-world skills,  and there’s opportunities available in every job sector for people of all ages.

“Over £4.2m of extra funding was invested into small businesses through the Staffordshire Means Back to Business scheme since the start of the pandemic.  This includes directly supporting almost 500 new recruits like Shizelle into apprenticeships. Now we’re really seeing the long-term impact of that which is a very real part of creating a more dynamic, vibrant local economy.”

National Apprenticeship Week runs from 6 to 12 February and is the annual campaign to promote the benefits of apprenticeships.

People interested in getting a local apprenticeship can search through hundreds of vacancies advertised at Staffordshire Jobs and Careers at



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