HAYS Travel – the firm which took over Thomas Cook when it went bust – is kicking off National Apprenticeship Week by opening the doors of 89 branches to those hoping to make it in the holiday industry.

It is chance for would-be apprentices to take their first step to a flying career – by popping into their local Hays Travel branch this week.

Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent travel agent, is offering 699 apprenticeships across the UK, their largest apprentice recruitment to date.

The company, which is based in Sunderland, is now recruiting for new apprentice travel consultants in its branches all around the UK as well as for other roles at its head office in Sunderland. Since 2015, over 860 apprentices have been taken on in shops and head office roles.

Potential applicants can pop into the branch to learn about the benefits of a Hays Travel apprenticeship and chat to current apprentices about their experience and achievements.

Events will be taking place across the UK from today until Friday 7.

Sian Potter, started as an apprentice and is now Hays Tour Operator Limited (HTOL) Live Chat Manager. She said: “I knew from the moment I joined the company that I wanted to progress. I told my mentor at the time I joined that one day I wanted to have his job and eventually I did.”

Hays Travel was awarded the Investors in People Apprentice Employer of the Year title and was in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For last year, and in 2019 achieved sales of over £2bn.

For the first time, Hays Travel is recruiting in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as all over England, following the takeover of the former Thomas Cook stores just three months ago.

John Hays, managing director, said: “Apprentices are at the heart of our business and are the future of the travel industry.

“We have always placed huge value on bringing young people into the business, not least because they bring innovative ideas and in-depth knowledge in technology and online, helping us drive Hays Travel forward. We are looking forward to expanding our apprenticeship programme across the whole of the UK and ensuring we have apprentices in each branch.”

There are 669 new travel consulting apprenticeships based throughout the whole of the UK, and an additional 30 apprenticeships at the company’s head office in Sunderland, with the opportunity of starting a career in one of the 34 head office departments.

Retail apprentices will go through a two-year apprenticeship programme - rated ‘good’ by Ofsted – to kick-start their career in travel.

Head office apprentices will complete a recognised one-year apprenticeship programme, working towards a Level 2 Customer Service Apprenticeship. The diverse range of roles available are selected on an individual basis to complement the individual’s skills and career aspirations through specialist training.