To mark National Apprenticeship Week, we caught up with Carol Muldoon, vice president for partner resources at Starbucks and founder of the company’s apprenticeship scheme, at the Apprenticeship Week launch event atop London’s Shard.

You mentioned in your talk earlier that apprenticeship schemes actually help to increase staff retention at Starbucks, why do you think this is?

I think this is for two reasons. One – because apprenticeships instil a loyalty factor within a candidate, because a lot of people are really grateful for being given a first step in an industry. Two – They can see other people progressing within the company, so why would they not stay? They know that the opportunity is there to go to a managerial level and beyond. We are looking for the people who will lead Starbucks in the future.

Is teaching leadership part of the apprenticeship scheme at Starbucks?

When we get to Level 3 in the scheme there is leadership elements of the scheme available, and as apprentices progress in to Levels 4, 5 and 6, then leadership becomes integral.

How many people took part in the Starbucks apprentice scheme this year?

We are just launching Levels 4, 5 and 6 of the scheme this year and we targeting this year potentially about 25 people this year to go onto the higher levels of the scheme.

And I would imagine that this number is only going to grow in the future?

Yes, or course, but we are focusing on quality over quantity, so we want to do it responsibly and give it the time that it deserves.

How long have you been developing the Starbucks scheme for?

It started four years ago and I actually started the scheme. To begin with it was very quick turnaround. We have now done three full years and each time we’ve enhanced it. We’ve introduced new schemes each time around. We are about to introduce, for example a head office scheme, so we are evolving each year and making it bigger and better as we go.

You mentioned before that you started the Starbucks scheme, you can tell me what your inspiration was?

The inspiration was, how do you stop the turnover of people? How do you get the message over to young people that is a credible notion that you can get a job at a coffee shop and go on to have a career. It is not just about being a temporary barista. There is more if you want it.

Can the success of this scheme be seen already?

One in twenty candidates have already got to store manager level, which is brilliant and we   hope that some will get to district manager level or even a job in head office, so there are so really credible stories out there to demonstrate that the scheme works.

When you come to recruiting people for the scheme, is there a balance between men and women?

It is an equal balance and that’s the nice thing about a coffee shop, it appeals to all, so we have a really diverse population of employees out there.

Is the scheme helping to make the leadership levels of Starbucks more diverse?

That would certainly be a target of it, we do want to improve our diversity at very senior levels of the company. We tend to have great diversity up to about director level and then it slows down, which is similar to most big organisations, so this scheme is a brilliant grass roots way of fast-tracking people if they have the ability.

So what is the highest level that an apprentice has got to in the company so far?

To manager level and hopefully this year we will see our first district manager and then beyond.

And what is the pay level for apprentices to begin with?

We never pay junior rates, we pay the adult rate for the job, so they all come in on the same rate as anyone else entering the company at coffee shop level.

Where to you look to recruit apprentices?

We have various partners that we work with. Remit are integral, websites such as Not Going to Uni, Headstart and Challenge. We partner with many other organisations to make sure that we get the best people.

So what attributes do you look for when you are recruiting?

Great attitude and a big smile.