From Monday 26 February to Friday 2 March over 70 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.

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

Between them, they will perform almost every job role at the Wollaton Street hotel – from general manager, switchboard operator, 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.

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. Since 2013, more than 47,000 people have benefitted from the IHG Academy across 2,133 programmes in 79 countries.

Crown Plaza Nottingham is among over 30 IHG hotels across the U.K. 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 first time and 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.”

The college’s curriculum manager for hospitality and travel, Helen Wilcockson, said: “Exposing our students to the world of work is a big part of what we do. Not only do they get a realistic taste of what their future career might look like, but it also motivates them to be the best they possibly can be.

“Students can look forward to a hectic and challenging week that puts them to test – but they’ll learn a huge amount and come away feeling inspired.”

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 event.

Partnerships between businesses and colleges are seen as 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 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 businesses can recruit the highly-skilled workers they need, and young people find sustainable careers in the industry.

Jordan Booth, who studies NVQ Level 3 Hospitality Supervision, will take on the role of general manager during the Hotel Takeover, shadowed by the man who does the job on a daily basis, David Clements.

The 18-year-old, from Mansfield, said: “I’m really excited about the opportunity. I want to do this sort of job in the future, so I think it’ll be a good step forward in achieving my career ambitions.

“Although there’ll be a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, I’m up for a challenge and I’ll get a great insight into what a hotel general manager does. I’m really looking forward to it.”