Smalley, group human resources director at the Premier Inn owner, joins representatives from Barceló Hotels, Compass Group, Holroyd Howe Independent, Hoseasons Holidays, McDonald's, Merlin Entertainment and Sodexo on the board.
The group human resources director has held her current role since 2007 and has more than a decade's experience with Whitbread.
Whitbread recently launched its own apprenticeship programme that will be offered to as many as 3,000 of its staff by the end of this year.
Smalley said: "Improving the current level of skills within our industry is vital to securing its future.
"I look forward to working with People 1st and the other board members to ensure that the right qualifications and funding are provided for employers and individuals within the sector."
By Chris Druce
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