“The course has really benefited me as it has made me understand this industry a whole lot more and has answered many questions that I have wondered about for ages. This programme has definitely opened my eyes to other opportunities that are out there.”
“This virtual work experience has helped me gain more innovative and dedication skills. This programme has also helped me have a deeper understanding in this field and has taught me many steps that go into producing a product.”
“I loved how the programme encouraged creativity the most, at the start I was somewhat nervous to think of new product ideas but got comfortable with it with the amount of encouragement.”
“I really got a chance to try my hand in the different functions of the business and have gained a lot of experience from those activities.”
Pret is a leading name on the High Street with a reputation both for quality of food and drink but also sustainability. All their coffee is organic, unsold food is given to charity and their Coffee Fund supports farmers. There is a wide variety of roles (not just rolls, baguettes or wraps) available at Pret, not just in store, but behind the scenes too.
Pret stands apart from other High Street names not just for their food but their values, they wanted their virtual work experience programme to reflect that they “stay hungry, care deeply, share joy, grow together and welcome everyone.”
The programme would be a success, they told us, if students were more likely to work for Pret on completion and, better still, if they had initial thoughts on which entry route might best suit them.
The content had to be engaging, giving students practical activities, and also a thorough oversight of different areas of the business, demonstrating the variety of roles available, from food preparation through to product development - and every bit of filling in between.
Pret wanted more females than males to take part and have a diverse ethnic mix and that the programme should boost a student’s skillset and confidence, regardless of whether they thought Pret might be the employer for them.
As our Content Team spoke to contacts at Pret it quickly became obvious that thoughts were aligned and we would be able to create a superb, compelling programme.
We knew that the best option was to take students on a journey and it was determined that this would be the journey of a new product, from ideas, through to refinement, pricing, marketing and branding, and finally launch.
Information about Pret would be included subtly, as relevant and when useful, rather than overwhelming eager students with background information at the start of their placement.
We divided content into seven modules, each taking between one and two hours to complete, thus creating segments that were informative without being overwhelming. Just half an hour into a module, a student could already feel significant progress had been made.
Many of the sections included practical tasks, for instance, Apprentice-style activities for the pricing of products based on ingredient costs, then marketing and branding.
Live video sessions, also available on demand, enabled students to acquire information in a natural way and ask questions, many at this stage asking about career prospects and routes available. The programme appealed to students’ inquisitiveness and so they sought further information, rather than having it forced upon them.
A rating of 8.4 for enjoyment of the programme shows that it remained engaging.
Pret wanted an ethnically diverse cohort weighted towards female students. We were able to deliver an engaged group where more than three quarters were female and more than half non-white. Furthermore, over a quarter (26%) were eligible for free school meals, one of the highest proportions for any virtual experience course we have run.
male/female/other (%): 23/76/1
ethnicity (%): white 46, Asian 29, Black 9, Mixed 7
Pret’s work experience programme had stunning results with 1,247 enrolments. Of those polled beforehand, none said they had ‘excellent’ awareness of careers in the industry. Afterwards, half did. 40% now said they were very likely to look for a job in the industry, only 17% did before completing the programme.
We were also able to demonstrate that students had given thought to the best route for them - 25% said they would consider the graduate scheme, four times higher than before the programme, 38% an apprenticeship, double the pre-programme rate.
And overall confidence had grown, 87% now at least somewhat confident about job prospects, up from 58% before.
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