Employment and welfare reform minister Stephen Timms has welcomed a hotel chain’s pledge to create hundreds of new jobs for the long-term unemployed by building 55 new hotels along the British coast by 2015.
Travelodge said it intended to recruit 25% of the workforce for the new hotels using the Local Employment Partnership (LEP) programme, where employers pledge to give job interviews and work placements to unemployed people specially trained by Jobcentre Plus.
The firm aims to build up to 40 hotels each year in the UK. Fifty-five will be built by the sea over the next seven years as part of a project to regenerate the UK’s coastline and capitalise on the growing demand for domestic holidays.
Since signing up to an LEP, Travelodge has hired 108 of 165 workers through it, well above the 25% benchmark Travelodge set itself.
The government aims to secure 250,000 jobs through the LEP scheme by 2010. But only about 12,000 long-term unemployed people have returned to work through the programme since it launched in April 2007.
However, Timms told Personnel Today that it was thanks to employers like Travelodge that the government stood a chance of hitting its ambitious targets.
“Businesses like this show that the economic slow-down should have little effect on the UK job market,” said Timms.
“We need to keep extending opportunities to disadvantaged people in times like this.”
Chrissie Herbert, Travelodge HR director, said that despite early growing pains, she now saw the LEPs as a necessary HR function.
“After the initial months, we now think of the JobCentre Plus staff helping us with our scheme as an extension of our recruitment department,” said Herbert. “It has helped us phenomenally to maintain our level of growth.”