Premier Inn owner Whitbread has launched a new training and development programme that will see staff obtaining a nationally recognised qualification.
The NVQ apprenticeship programme, personally spearheaded by Whitbread's chief executive Alan Parker, is thought to be one of the first employer-led qualifications of its level to launch in the hospitality sector, although both rival budget hotel chain Travelodge and McDonald's have launched similar schemes.
Whitbread, which also owns Costa Coffee and Beefeater, hopes to take the NVQ programme out nationally and to train more than 3,000 employees by the end of 2009. Employees are able to gain an NVQ in housekeeping, food processing and cooking, food and drink service, front office and customer service.
The apprenticeship was developed in conjunction with the awarding body Edexcel, and is supported by People 1st, the Sector Skills Council for hospitality.
Parker said: "By halving the time that it takes and combining the NVQ work with our induction programme, we anticipate that 20% of our workforce will have a nationally recognised qualification by 2010."
Travelodge teamed up with Westminster Kingsway College in May this year to offer a foundation degree in budget hotel management, while, in January, McDonald's became one of the first employers allowed to award nationally recognised qualifications through its training programmes, which are equivalent to GCSEs, A-Levels and degrees.
By Gemma Sharkey
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