The hospitality industry has been urged to take advantage of the success of Olympic volunteers to cement the London 2012 legacy.
Not only has the image of the UK as a friendly and welcoming nation been boosted by images and messages beamed around the world via social media forums, but the industry now also has the opportunity to offer employment opportunities to some of the 70,000 volunteers - known as the Games Makers - who have proved to be such a huge hit with spectators.
Brian Wisdom, chief executive of People 1st, the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality industry, said the organisation is currently exploring how it can attract some of the talented volunteers into hospitality, either via the Employment 1st training programme, which prepares people for their first role in hospitality, or encouraging them to apply for jobs through the online recruitment site, www.uksp.co.uk.
"It has been wonderful to see the positive PR that the Olympic volunteers have generated for the UK's tourism offer through their friendly and helpful attitude, and we are keen to make sure that the hospitality industry benefits from their legacy," he said.
"The Olympic volunteers have proved that, with the right training, the UK can compete with the very best when it comes to offering a warm welcome to visitors."
From the outset, it was the intention of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to give volunteers - who include a large number of graduates and the unemployed - the opportunity to learn new, practical and relevant skills that they would be able to put to use after the games had ended.
Supported by McDonald's, every volunteer undertook three days of training featuring content from the World Host customer service programme. Key elements included how to make a great first impression, using and remembering names, how to listen to customers effectively and communication techniques. The training also emphasised the critical role the volunteers have in maximising the value of tourism to the UK economy.
Anne Pierce, chief executive of industry charity Springboard, said that the organisation would be actively promoting and tailoring its existing programmes for graduates and the unemployed to the volunteers. "We aim to offer our services through LOCOG and the various sponsor companies as well as through social media," she added.
Philip Addison, HR director of Accor UK & Ireland, which currently employs 5,000 staff across 185 hotels, said that the volunteers are demonstrating in abundance the skills the company requires of good communications and a willingness to help others.
"These are exactly the attributes that we look for in prospective employees and would be delighted to talk to the volunteers about how they can put these skills to great use in the hospitality industry," he said. "The volunteers have been rightly applauded for the exceptional welcome they have offered guests to London and the Olympics. We have found them to be helpful, informative and enthusiastic."
By Janet Harmer
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