Hospitality companies are "too modest" about the career opportunities they can offer their employees and need to work to increase awareness of what is available.
That's the view of hotel group Accor's UK managing director Thomas Dubaere (pictured), who was speaking to Caterer and Hotelkeeper at the launch of the company's new hospitality training centre, the London Académie Accor.
The new facility in the Novotel London West in Hammersmith, which will give the company the opportunity to supplement its existing nationwide education programme with practical training in a role play scenario, is the first of its kind for the company in the UK, and comes as part of a £5m investment in employee training.
Accor has chosen to make the move to ensure that it has enough staff to cope with its ambitious expansion plans which will see it create 3,500 jobs as it expands to 300 hotels by 2015.
In addition to the Académie Accor campus, the company will also offer management apprenticeships for 100 18 to 24-year-olds, and has formalised its student internships scheme, which will offer 100 placements each year to students on UK hospitality courses from four different universities.
The company has also entered a pilot programme with industry charity Springboard, called Hospitality Futures, to help 25 young unemployed people aged 18-24 into a starting job in the hospitality industry.
"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 Dubaere, who has worked for Accor for 22 years, having started as a maitre d' in a Novotel in Belgium.
"Hospitality is a very promising career path. Indeed, the vast majority of our senior managers started as trainees at one of our hotels."
He added: "We are too modest in our industry. We are too modest in what we do, in what we deliver, and the potential that this industry has. One of the main things we want to do is to come out and go forward. I don't think our industry, whether it is in schools or in education, is taken as a minority, but I do think we can increase its awareness and especially the awareness of the career potential that we have."
Philip Addison, HR 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."
By Neil Gerrard
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