Scottish hotels group eyes bounce back with roll out of £1 million 'jobs academy'

A Scottish hotels group that runs seven establishments in some of the country’s most scenic locations is putting £1 million behind a recruitment drive as the industry attempts to get back on its feet.

Crerar Hotels, which is currently on the look-out for some 35 staff across its portfolio, said it was committing the investment towards “attracting, retaining and developing the best talent”.

The group has also unveiled a range of revamped employee benefits as it looks to recover from the coronavirus crisis. Those measures include contributions towards driving lessons, paid time off the day children start primary school, a compulsory day off on employees’ birthdays and pet bereavement leave.

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As well as investing in recruitment and people development – through the launch of the Crerar Academy – the group is keen to help employees develop their skill set and gain qualifications through working in the hospitality industry.

Crerar Hotels CEO Chris Wayne-Wills outside the Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa. Picture: Robert Perry

Chief executive Chris Wayne-Wills said: “We’re coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic in a relatively fortunate position regarding our ability to invest in attracting and retaining talent. We planned meticulously for the impact Brexit was set to have on the industry’s workforce, so we are ahead of the game.

“There’s no doubt that the hospitality industry is in crisis when it comes to availability of skills – a crisis we have all met far sooner than expected due to the double impact of the pandemic and the fall-out of Brexit.

“In response we’ve accelerated our plans that are focused on not only becoming an employer of choice within the Scottish hospitality industry, but to become a first-choice employer regardless of sector.

“That’s why investment is so important. As a privately-owned company, we are committing more than £1m to our people development plans at a time like this as we know there is nothing more valuable than our people.”

Founded by Paddy Crerar, the firm’s portfolio comprises Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa, Thainstone House, Oban Bay Hotel, Isle of Mull Hotel & Spa, Golf View, The Glencoe Inn and Deeside Inn.

With ongoing investment of at least £250,000 per year, the Crerar Academy aims to support life-long learning and “genuine career progression”, giving employees the opportunity to receive training through university partners, access to industry body scholarships and a dedicated SVQ partnership to help staff gain formal qualifications.

Wayne-Wills added: “Our industry-leading Academy will constantly develop to ensure the needs of our teams are met.

“As well as supporting long-term career progression, we also want to develop and nurture the next generation of hospitality talent through our apprenticeship programme – which is vital given the current levels of youth unemployment that has granted 16–24-year-olds the title of ‘Generation Covid’.

“It’s our ambition for the Crerar Academy to have a game-changing effect on the wider industry and will be rolled out in highly professional manner which will reflect the expectation of the participants and the partners.”

In March, the hotels group reported a 130 per cent leap in booking revenues following the announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown.

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