It plans to take on 1,200 a year in its Costa, restaurant and Premier Inn hotel brands.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said Whitbread would be investing £5.7 million in the scheme by 2020.

He added: “Our 45,000 team members are our greatest asset and it’s vital we invest in them, creating opportunities to develop their skills and build their careers.

“I firmly believe that investing in apprenticeships is essential to Whitbread’s future success and to the health of the UK economy, as well as helping the next generation to achieve their full potential.”

Whitbread’s Premier Inn apprenticeship scheme has been running since 2010 and has delivered over 1,100 apprenticeships so far with a further 950 trainees currently working towards their apprenticeship.

The new Costa Apprenticeships programme will provide an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Customer Service and Barista Skills and will open for applications in summer 2015.

Whtibread’s initiative has won praise from Prime Minister David Cameron. He said: “There really has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship and it is a huge leap forward to have Whitbread, one of Britain’s leading employers in the hospitality industry, hiring even more apprentices.” 

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