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The Corporation

Posted: 13/03/19

Travel and hospitality students to get to grips with hotel life

For the second year running, travel and hospitality students from West Nottinghamshire College will spend a week running Crowne Plaza Nottingham, as part of InterContinental Hotel Group’s (IHG’s) National Hotel Takeover in partnership with People 1st – a programme designed to encourage more young people to work in the hospitality industry.

  • Lifestyle academy students from travel, catering and hospitality raring to take over the Crowne Plaza hotel in Nottingham
  • Sudents who will be heads of hotel deparments, Julie Oliver (l) head of HR at Crown Plaza and Helen Wilcockson (r) curriculum manager

More than 40 students – who are on various courses including travel and tourism, and catering and hospitality – have been hand-picked for the exercise taking place 18-22 March, and will be shadowed by Crowne Plaza staff to gain practical experience of operating a large, fully-functioning hotel to complement their college-based training.

Between them they will perform almost every job role at the Wollaton Street hotel – from general manager, concierge and house-keeping assistant, to linen porter, chef, bar assistant, and catering and events supervisor, along with managerial positions across HR, finance, house-keeping, food and beverage, and reception.

Throughout the week, television and media production students from the college will be filming activities and events as they unfold.

The initiative is part of IHG® Academy. Through IHG Academy, IHG hotels (with brands including Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express) collaborate with educational providers and community groups to help local people build their hospitality skills and improve their employability.

Crown Plaza Nottingham is among over 30 IHG hotels across the UK to participate in the Hotel Takeover, aimed at encouraging more people to choose careers in hospitality.

David Clements, general manager of Crowne Plaza Nottingham said: “We’re thrilled to be taking part in Hotel Takeover for the second time, again partnering with West Nottinghamshire College, which is known for its exceptional hospitality training. Giving ambitious young people on-the-job experience is a great way of recruiting the highly-trained professionals of tomorrow.

“IHG Academy has a strong track record of giving people from all walks of life opportunities to improve their employability skills and nurture a career in this dynamic sector, and what better way to do that than through initiatives such as this.”

Helen Wilcockson, curriculum manager for hospitality and travel at the college, said: “Bringing our hospitality and travel and tourism students together for this event is a really forward-thinking concept. Not only does it expose students to the real world of work, but they’re seeing how other roles connect into theirs and how everyone has to think in a united way.

“I’m certain they’ll all enjoy a very varied, albeit a challenging week which will test many skills as well as bring out and nurture new ones. It’s skills like these which will see them excel when in jobs of their own. I’m looking forward to seeing them in action.”

Crowne Plaza Nottingham and West Nottinghamshire College, which holds People 1st gold standard hospitality accreditation for its collaborative partnerships with industry, are the East Midlands’ sole representatives in the national initiative.

Partnerships between businesses and colleges are critical to help improve the employability skills and career prospects of aspiring hospitality professionals in the years to come, while also providing opportunities for ongoing work experience during their studies.

Industry chiefs say initiatives such as Hotel Takeover are vital to alleviate skills shortages in the hospitality sector, which is the UK’s fourth largest employment area and was responsible for 15% of total employment growth between 2008 and 2016.

According to People 1st, the hospitality industry will need an additional 11,000 chefs over the next five years, with businesses struggling to fill catering vacancies, despite there being 28,390 student chefs in 2015/16 alone.

The visitor economy, which includes hospitality and tourism, employs more than 50,000 people across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The sector is regarded by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership as crucial to the local economy and designated it as one of just eight key commercial sectors, making it a priority for further growth and investment.

As such, improving links between employers and training-providers is considered a vital component in ensuring that businesses can recruit the highly-skilled workers they need, and young people find sustainable careers in the industry.

Amy Salmon, 18, who is a student on the Level 3 Diploma in Travel and Tourism is getting prepared to be the head of housekeeping next week. She said: “Becoming housekeeping manager for the week is making me feel excited – I’m really enthusiastic and it’s such a good opportunity. I am very passionate about cleaning and have high standards. I work at a small hotel in Mansfield so I get my standards from there.

“This will be on a bigger scale at the Crowne Plaza, and being immersed in real work experience like this is going to be so valuable.”