TUI UK has revealed plans to expand its travel apprenticeships programme into new areas of the business as Apprenticeship Week draws to a close.
The travel giant has hired 3,500 apprentices in the last five years and they now make up 30% of all its travel agency staff and tour reps. The apprentices are aged 16 to 18 and combine on-the-job training with organised learning.
TUI UK accredited programmes manager Andy Smyth said he plans to recruit another 500 apprentices in June and July and introduce them to other areas of the business.
He said: "We are looking at having apprentice cabin crew and management. Having apprentices is much easier than it used to be as there isn't as much red tape. It makes good business sense."
Smyth was speaking at a People 1st seminar on Tuesday, where travel employers were urged to take on apprentices. People 1st chief executive Brian Wisdom said: "The travel industry will continue to recruit during the recession as we have a high staff turnover and a number of seasonal businesses.
"It is important we have talented people so we can be prepared for the upturn."
The travel sector should be taking advantage of the government's investment in 35,000 additional apprenticeships during 2009, he added. Prime minister Gordon Brown plans to invest £140 million to bring the number of apprenticeships to more than 250,000.
Wisdom said: "Travel is the fourth largest industry to operate this programme and we see that increasing dramatically. Apprenticeships can help bridge the gap between now and the jobs generated by the London 2012Olympics."
New research by the Learning and Skills Council for Apprenticeship Week, conducted in January, revealed that 87% of employers believe apprenticeships helped generate productivity and 84% found it improved staff retention.
More on skills and training at travelweekly.co.uk/training
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