The Group, which operates several brands including MGallery, Novotel and Ibis, says the investment is crucial to support ambitious expansion plans that see the UK portfolio of the France-based company expand to 300 sites by 2015.
Just over a year ago there were only 140 Accor hotels across the country whereas currently the business operates 45 more. It is on track to pass the 200 mark before the end of the year including with the opening of the first UK site under the Pullman brand in St Pancras.
“Finding and developing talent is vital to achieving our ambitious growth strategy,” said Thomas Dubaere, managing director of Accor UK and Ireland.
Dubaere told an audience gathered at the launch of the UK Académie Accor he had started at the company as a Maître d in Bruges and the promised investment was part of on-going plans to continue to increase staff development and staff retention levels.
“Hospitality is a very promising career path. Indeed the vast majority of our senior managers started as trainees at one of our hotels," he said. 75 per cent of all Accor hotel general managers are recruited from within the company.
As part of its £5m UK investment Accor has:
- Launched its 17th Académie Accor, the first in the UK, at the Novotel London West in Hammersmith. The company already puts every staff member, including its senior directors, through a minimum of one training course a year.
- Pledged to develop an existing partnership with Babcock and employ 100 people on a Management Apprenticeship Programme which has an 81 per cent completion rate.
- Formalised its Student Placement Internships scheme to offer 100 placements to students on hospitality courses in five UK universities.
- Pledged to give 25 young unemployed people in London a place on a nine-week course and help them find employment in the industry afterwards in a new pilot scheme which it may roll out if successful.
Speaking to BigHospitality, Sophie Flak, executive vice president of sustainable development and Accor academies, said she believed the announced investment would go some way to helping the UK catch up with other European nations' hospitality training programmes.
"If you look at other countries in Europe we have major, very well-known hospitality schools such as Lausanne. So in those countries where you have formal schools the hospitality industry is less seen as a job and more as a career possibility. We are working to correct this idea of job and not career," she said.
The news comes less than a month after Accor made the list of 25 of the best large workplaces for the first time, coming in at number 23. It is also just three weeks since the BHA Hospitality and Tourism Summit where Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants managing director Patrick Dempsey said the industry should use its job-creation ability to lobby Government.
Just yesterday, BigHospitality reported the BHA is reinforcing the overwhelming message from the summit that the industry could drive growth and create even more jobs if significant barriers were removed by Government.
Philip Addison, human resources director, Accor UK and Ireland, agreed with Flak that the UK had a unique perception of hospitality jobs which programmes such as Accor's was working to change. "I think it may be to do with some abuse of duty managers in the past, taking people into roles with excessive hours and not paying them well."
"That is not the way we operate or any of the big companies now. You can see in terms of careers it is one of the few industries today where you can start at the bottom with no qualifications and make it to the top," he concluded.