A Preston man has become the face of a major hotel chain as it tries to encourage more youngsters to come into the industry as apprentices.
Paul Smith, aged 27, is a former apprentice who is now assistant manager at the Ibis London Stratford.
He is featured in a new video encouraging young people to consider an apprenticeship in the hospitality industry.
This is off the back of an announcement that Ibis owners Accor have pledged to double the amount of apprentices the group takes on to 300 by 2016.
Accor’s management apprenticeship scheme has provided many young people with a great start in their hospitality careers, and Paul is no different.
Paul’s story began when he joined the apprenticeship scheme in 2006 aged 16, completing a NVQ Level 2 in hospitality studies at his local Ibis branch in Preston.
He said: “I joined the Accor apprenticeship scheme after finishing school as I saw my future in the hospitality industry. It was a great opportunity to get experience and build a career for myself. I am a friendly person and the customer interaction aspect of the job really appealed to me.
“I wanted an insight into how hotels function behind the scenes as well as front of house and the management apprenticeship scheme provided that.”
After winning employee of the year in Preston, Paul’s ascent through the company continued at pace, as he moved to Leeds to work towards his level 3 supervisory qualification, winning employee of the year twice in his time there.
He moved to Liverpool in 2011 as a team leader. After completing the assistant manager development programme, he stayed on in Merseyside for three years as assistant general manager before making the move to London in August 2014.
He believes the apprenticeship equips people with all the crucial skills needed to work in the hospitality industry.
Paul, who now lives in London, said: “A typical day for me involves so many different tasks, such as customer service, administrative duties, forecasting, banking and general HR.
“The scheme has enabled me to perform these tasks to the highest of my ability, as I have gained knowledge of so many different processes and gained exposure with different people throughout the business.”
Paul remains grounded, but is quietly ambitious about his future at Accor.
He said: “I am working towards becoming a general manager in 18 months, and want to manage at the largest branch I can.”