The TUI Travel group is set to launch a graduate scheme in the UK for the first time, flying in the face of the recession, Personnel Today has learned.
HR director Jacky Simmonds said the holiday firm was about to start recruiting for 10 graduates to join the programme next year. The scheme will cover all areas of business operations.
The news comes as several graduate employers have had to cut back on graduate schemes this year as the downturn continued, including steel firm Corus and smoothie maker Innocent Drinks, with communications giant BT closing its intake altogether.
“We are continuing to invest in training and development,” Simmonds said. “The scheme is a two-year programme with our first intake in September 2011.”
The group, formed by a merger of TUI Tourism and First Choice Holidays in 2007, has also this week revealed the results of its first staff survey since the merger.
Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the 14,000 UK staff employed responded to the survey.
Simmonds was pleased that the firm ranked highly on its engagement score (83%) and that 68% of staff thought the group had managed change well.
However, speaking to delegates yesterday at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Annual Conference in Manchester, the HR chief admitted it had been challenging and “painful” to achieve the high levels of engagement the firm is said to now have.
During the merger many pilots were “very unhappy” about the plans, and unions encouraged workers to avoid participating in staff surveys to show contempt for the decision.
She said: “Three weeks into the merger I did a staff attitude survey, which got a 25% response rate. This was partly because union partners told employees not to fill it in. Two years ago, I couldn’t have asked for the sort of [high engagement] results we have got now.”
She also told the magazine the firm’s HR team had reduced by at least 20% since the merger, partly caused by the decision to combine the Crawley and Manchester-based teams into one central office in Luton.
“People left through natural wastage or by deciding they didn’t want to relocate,” she said. “In HR we had to harmonise policies, reduce 35 performance management frameworks into one, and we had to prepare the HR team.”
Next month TUI Travel will publish its preliminary results for the year ended 30 September 2009.