Yesterday, at the start of National Apprenticeship Week, Accor announced plans to expand its Apprenticeship Programme this year, aiming to 'considerably beat' last year's target of 100 participants.
A spokesperson for the company, which operates hotels principally under the Ibis, Novotel, Mercure and Sofitel brands, said it was hard to put a number on how many more apprentices the group would take on, but due to the fact the programme was increasingly successful it made sense to increase targets further.
Those who take up apprenticeships with Accor combine on-the-job training with a qualification. Each participant will attempt to gain an NVQ Level II or II or a Diploma in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership over two years. The scheme, which runs alongside the Accor Academie, has so far seen 250 people take up an apprenticeship with completion rates at 80 per cent and retention rates at 50 per cent.
Accor UK & Ireland managing director Thomas Dubaere said: “The expansion of this scheme is another example of our commitment to investing in new talent and developing careers across our portfolio brands. Developing the managers of the future is a key part of ensuring we deliver our UK expansion plan. We also have a responsibility as an employer to provide our staff with every possible opportunity to succeed in this industry.”
Budget hotel operator Travelodge is also upping its quota of apprenticeships by creating an extra 51 positions on its junior management apprenticeship programme (JuMP).
In the last two years 65 apprentices have been recruited by the scheme and that number is set to increase this year, partly due to its popularity - last year there were 4,000 applications for 45 placements and this year Travelodge expects more than 6,000.
Jon Hendry Pickup, chief operating officer at Travelodge said: “Our nationwide JuMP programme was developed to support our growth strategy and is really helping us create future business leaders. The programme offers school leavers a proven alternative to university as it provides a real job and training in all areas of the business, whilst allowing them to gain valuable, nationally-recognised qualifications and earn a salary.
“We expect demand for our apprenticeship positions to be at an all time high this year, as there is a huge pool of talent out there searching for an opportunity to start a career. I would urge more businesses to invest in an apprenticeship programme, as it is a great platform to upskill young Britons and create a generation of future leaders.”
Apprentices: yes. Seasonal staff: no
The announcements by both hotel groups comes following a call from training provider HTP and Anglesey Hotel for more independent hotels to invest in apprentices rather than hire seasonal staff.
Kevin Meacham, director and head chef of the Anglesey Hotel in Alverstoke, Gosport, told those attending a National Apprenticeship Week event in Portsmouth last week that taking on and training apprentice chef Tom Howard had been more cost effective for his business than hiring temporary seasonal staff.
“What some employers do not realise is that hiring and training seasonal staff is more costly than taking on an apprentice. With an apprentice, you have the benefit of nurturing someone right from the start and the training is done on the job. They are eager to learn and motivated to progress. I find apprentices to be far more consistent. It just makes commercial sense.
“HTP worked in partnership with us to deliver the specialist skills Tom Howard needed and the training has also been cost effective. It has been an absolute pleasure watch Tom grow in knowledge and self-esteem. He represents everything an apprenticeship is designed to achieve. There’s no reason why other organisations can’t replicate this success and reap the business rewards of apprenticeships.”