A ground breaking three-bedroom Premier Inn training centre has launched at Hereward College in Coventry with the aim of helping young people with additional needs get into work.
The little Premier Inn is a partnership project between Premier Inn and Hereward College, a national further educational college specialising in skills training for independent living and employment for young people with disabilities and additional needs.
The new mini-hotel, which will not take paying guests, is a state-of-the-art training facility and will be used for young people to learn skills in the hospitality industry.
Built by Novus Property Solutions, the company responsible for refurbishing hundreds of Premier Inn hotels across the country, it is an exact replica of a Premier Inn.
Completely indistinguishable from a regular hotel, right down to ‘do not disturb’ signs on the doors and the tea and coffee making facilities Premier Inn guests are familiar with, it features three en-suite bedrooms, a reception desk, corridor and linen room.
From guest relations to housekeeping, the facility will enable young people to learn about all areas of hospitality in a completely realistic hotel environment.
Young people taking part in the programme will also have the opportunity to undertake supported internships and the ambition is for them to go on to paid employment in Premier Inn hotels across the country.
Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson said: “Every young person should be able to reach their full potential and I whole heartedly welcome Whitbread’s fantastic Premier Inn training hotel for young people with disabilities who want a career in hospitality, which will put them on the path to a successful future.
“There are 7.6million working age disabled people in the UK and employers are missing out by not recruiting from this pool of skilled, loyal and hardworking talent. We are committed to working with employers to build inclusive workforces with schemes like Disability Confident, which provides businesses with the support they need to recruit and retain disabled people. And employers’ innovative training schemes, like the tiny hotel, are so important in helping to close the disability employment gap”.
Premier Inn Managing Director Simon Ewins said: “If you think of the average Premier Inn guest – there isn’t one. We welcome people from all walks of life, and from every corner of the world. It is only right our workforce reflects this. Diversity is at the core of our people plan and we continue our focus on becoming the most inclusive hospitality business. We recognise that a diverse and inclusive culture brings significant business benefits and ultimately leads to better business performance”.
The venture follows on from an industry-first partnership between Premier Inn and Derwen College, a residential educational facility for young people with learning difficulties based in Shropshire. It is part of owner Whitbread’s Force For Good programme, which amongst other things, supports the employment of under-represented groups.
Almost half of the students who have trained at Derwen have gone on to be directly employed by Premier Inn since the partnership launched back in 2013.
Student Mary Woodall who has successfully completed training at Derwen College and is now employed by Premier Inn in Greenwich will join the latest launch as the guest of honour to give a speech.
A popular team member, Mary, 26, welcomes thousands of guests every year into the hotel – right in the heart of one of London’s most popular tourist hotspots.
She said: “Training in the mini-Premier Inn was a fantastic experience and really helped build my confidence before starting into a job with the company. Having the chance to train in a life-like facility is really helpful because you can learn all aspects of hospitality alongside other students who are also interested in hotels and make friends at the same time. I think the students will really learn a lot from it”.
Paul Cook, Principal at Hereward College said: “We are delighted to be working with Premier Inn, who support our ambition to become a centre of excellence in hospitality training and get more people with disabilities into meaningful employment.
“The new training facility will mean that students will be able to gain work experience, learn specific job roles and gain confidence before stepping into the workplace.”
Alan Nixon, CEO at Novus Property Solutions, added: “Through our partnerships with major clients such as Whitbread we’ve delivered a range of social value projects that have lasting impacts in the towns and communities where we work. The facility here at Hereward College will provide a fantastic opportunity for people living with disabilities and additional needs to gain real skills to support their futures.”