Hays Travel has announced plans to recruit a further 1,500 staff through new jobs and apprenticeships.

There are 200 new posts available at the company’s head office in Sunderland, 500 jobs handling foreign currency, and apprenticeships at each of Hays Travel’s 737 branches.

Has Travel has already employed 2,330 former Thomas Cook employees since it took over the leases for the 555 shops that were in Cook’s retail network before it ceased trading in September.

Podcast: John and Irene Hays

The independent agency has opened more than 450 of the former Cook shops in six weeks.

Managing director John Hays said: “We’re further increasing staffing to ensure we have the highest customer service levels across all of our stores and our head office functions.

“These are fantastic permanent career opportunities for people who want to take a step into an exciting industry where every day is different.

“You don’t necessarily need travel experience – just an enthusiasm for travel, a good head for numbers for the foreign exchange posts and some customer service experience of any kind would be helpful.

“The former Thomas Cook managers have said the biggest difference for them is being empowered and valued – as an independent travel agent they are not tied to certain products or scripts and they feel trusted. This is a key principle of our business.”

The Hays Travel Academy will provide training for those who have not worked in the industry before.

Apprentices will go through a two-year programme. Hays added: “We have always recruited, supported and developed young people – they are the future of our industry.  We are looking forward to expanding our apprenticeship programme and making sure there’s at least one travel apprentice on most of the UK’s high streets.”

The company hopes to have discussions with organisations in the devolved authorities of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Isle of Man, where there is different infrastructure supporting apprenticeships.

There are now 737 Hays Travel shops in total and currently 4,200 people have permanent jobs – the additional posts could take the workforce to 5,700.

Hays Travel has legal access to all of the former Thomas Cook shops and is currently in discussions with landlords across the UK to extend leases beyond their existing terms – many of these are for several years.

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