The race to up-skill staff for the London 2012 Olympics kicked off today with the launch of Travelodge's new £36m, 202-bedroom hotel in Southwark.
As part of a Local Employer Partnership (LEP) scheme signed last autumn, the budget hotel group is looking to recruit half of the hotel's workforce from the ranks of London's long-term unemployed via Jobcentre Plus.
Travelodge also took the opportunity to showcase the UK's first foundation degree in hospitality, budget hotel and retail management, which it has developed in conjunction with Westminster Kingsway College.
Grant Hearn, chief executive of Travelodge, said: "Skills and employment transforms people's lives and we believe Travelodge can contribute massively in this area."
Skills minister David Lammy added: "The foundation degree in hospitality is exactly the sort of course we are looking to encourage and I'm therefore delighted to support Travelodge at the launch of its 2012 skills race."
Budget hotel group Travelodge was the first hospitality employer to sign an LEP, agreeing a deal in October last year.
Since then InterContinental Hotels Group, JD Wetherspoon, Compass Group, Marriott and Centrer Parcs have signed similar deals. Around 1,400 employers across all sectors have signed up to date.
In April Travelodge purchased six hotels from Menzies. The deal will see it add 700 rooms to its estate after conversion as part of its plan to expand by 4,000 rooms by the end of the year.
The budget hotel chain, which operates 335 hotels and more than 20,000 bedrooms, has set itself the goal of operating 1,000 hotels and 70,000 bedrooms by 2020.
By Chris Druce
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