By Jonathan Davies

The owner of Costa Coffee and Premier Innn has announced plans to create 6,000 apprenticeships over the next five years.

Whitbread will create 1,200 apprenticeships each year for the next five years.

Costa will provide and intermediate programme in customer service and barista skills. Applications will open in the summer.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of Whitbread, said: "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.

"We will commit £5.7 million to our apprenticeship programmes over the next five years."

In addition to the apprenticeships, Whitbread will create 7,500 work placements for young people and create 6,500 employment placements by 2020.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "There really has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship and it's a huge leap forward to have Whitbread, one of Britain's leading employers in the hospitality industry, hiring even more apprentices.

"We want apprenticeships to be level-pegging with a university degree giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet.

"We've already created 2.2 million apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality apprenticeships to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security.