Thomas Cook’s UK retail apprenticeship scheme has achieved outstanding grades in an Ofsted inspection.
All areas of assessment, including outcomes for learners, quality of teaching, learning and assessment and effectiveness of leadership and management were judged as outstanding.
Cook recruits more than 300 apprentices a year on a 24-month scheme which includes an NVQ diploma in travel services, a technical certificate in travel geography and functional skills in mathematics and English.
Apprentices work alongside staff in store, learning about all aspects of a sales consultant role in a retail environment. Their work is assessed by an internal team, many who have completed an apprenticeship themselves or have previously worked for the business.
Apprentice staff achieved an unprecedented 94% pass rate last year, exceeding external standards by 24%.
On completion of their training, apprentices become fully qualified sales consultants and many of them progress their career within the company.
Cook hopes to recruit 350 new apprentices into its shop network this year. The apprenticeship programme is also expanding into other areas, including the contact centre, e-commerce, finance and HR.
Pat du Pille, Cook’s learning and development manager, funded programmes, said: “We are over the moon about achieving an outstanding Ofsted grade. It’s fantastic recognition of the learning and development team’s dedication to the programme and towards developing future talent within our business.
“Our apprenticeship programme is a perfect example of providing brilliant career opportunities for young people and we’re opening doors to a hugely exciting industry.
“There’s enough variation within the business for apprentices to fill their entire career if they so choose. The results highlight the incredible success of the apprentices, their mentors and their managers.
“Thomas Cook is committed to growing its own talent and attracting enthusiastic, passionate young people into the business.”
Emily Gibbard, regional business manager for the Thames Valley and South London region, joined Cook as an apprentice 20 years ago and now manages 30 stores.
“After joining the Thomas Cook apprenticeship programme, I progressed to a customer service manager role,” she said.
“By the age of 20, I was a store manager and a regional business manager at 25.
“The programme serves as an excellent springboard into the workplace and I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities that have been offered to me as a result of it. Now, I love helping current apprentices get their foot in the door and seeing their careers take off in the travel industry.”
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