Hotel group Accor has announced that it is to invest £5m in employee training and create 3,500 jobs in the UK by 2015.
The news came as the firm unveiled a new training facility, part of its Académie Accor programme, in the Novotel London West in Hammersmith.
The company said it had made the investment to ensure that it had enough skilled employees to cope with its expansion plans, as it moved towards its target of 300 UK hotels, from the 185 it currently has.
"Now more than ever, finding and developing talent is vital to achieving our ambitious growth strategy. This is why we are making this significant investment," said Thomas Dubaere, managing director of Accor UK and Ireland. "Hospitality is a very promising career path. Indeed, the vast majority of our senior managers started as trainees at one of our hotels."
The new Académie Accor campus is the first of its kind for Accor in the UK and it will allow the company to offer practical training, including role-play training, to employees across all of its different brands. The facility strengthens the training already provided to the group's employees through its Académie programme, which has been running for around two years.
In addition to the new campus, Accor announced a partnership with training company Babcock to further develop its apprenticeship scheme, which has involved 250 people in the past eight years. This year, its Management Apprenticeship Programme will employ 100 young people (18- to 24-year-olds), giving them on-the-job training and a national qualification: NVQ Level 2 or NVQ Level 3, which can be achieved over two years.
Meanwhile, it has also formalised its student internships scheme that will offer 100 placements each year to students on UK hospitality courses with a view to recruiting candidates following the completion of their studies. The paid placements run for 12 months in partnership with four UK universities.
Finally, with the support of the Accor Foundation, Accor UK launches an in-to-work programme called "Hospitality Futures" with the charity Springboard. It will offer 25 young unemployed people aged 18-24 a starting job in the hospitality industry. Following a nine-week initial course, which includes five weeks of classroom training and on-the-job experience, Accor aims to find every participant a job.
Philip Addison, human resources director for Accor UK and Ireland, said: "Our new approach aims to discover and nurture potential talent from as wide a pool as possible - from teenagers struggling to find employment to graduates from the UK's best hospitality courses. Our Management Apprenticeship Programme gives young people qualifications and training. Hospitality Futures will help young people see their potential for a career in the industry, equip them with the skills to get started, and, most importantly, help to get them a job.
"These initiatives will be brought to life at Académie Accor, the Hospitality Learning Network. The hospitality training centre in London opens today and will be essential to ensuring we guide and support our people to perform at their very best."
By Neil Gerrard
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