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College students 'takeover' top hotel

Added on: 16th March, 2020 by LSEC17

College students 'takeover' top hotel

Student Nick Ackland, 17 with Marriott staff

Last Updated:
Mon, 16 March 2020

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Enterprising students from London South East Colleges undertook a pioneering work experience challenge at the five-star London Marriott Hotel County Hall last week.

The cohort of 13 were chosen from dozens of other hopefuls earlier in the term after senior managers from the hotel group came along to conduct speed-interviews. They were offering work-shadowing roles in General Management, Door, Porter and Concierge, Housekeeping, Sales, Marketing, Finance, HR and Events, Engineering, Culinary and Food and Beverage.

The aim of the exercise was to give students a real taste of working in this growing industry, boosting their technical, communication and employability skills – hopefully leading to the launch of some exciting careers.

The students began their week with an induction session in one of the Hotel’s function rooms given by members of the HR department and other section managers. In it they were taught about the Group’s ethos, house rules and expectations before getting down to the essentials of providing top of the range customer service.

Students were then taken on a detailed tour of the luxury hotel and, after a series of role-play and confidence building exercises, they met with their respective managers and set off to work for the week.
Multi Property Director of Human Resources at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, Alex Dimsdale worked with College curriculum managers as well as its work experience team to create relevant and highly beneficial positions within the Hotel. The main focus being to show students how their work contributes to offering guests a five-star experience and making them aware of all the routes into becoming senior and executive managers.

Alex said: “We have created a unique partnership with the College that enables us to open the doors of opportunity to those who made it through to this stage of the project. Each individual student has been given a chance to take on responsibility and show us what they can do. They have worked alongside experienced professionals who have donated their valuable time and expert knowledge, guiding them throughout the week in a wide variety of different disciplines.

“I have to say, after talking to the students today, we have achieved a high level of success. Each one will be going back to College with greater insight and vision, and above all, much more confidence and optimism. We are all delighted with the results and will be collaborating further to offer similar opportunities in the near future.”

London South East Colleges’ Vice Principal (adults, partnerships and apprenticeships) Neil Coates led the project. He said:
“The College’s priority is to ensure that our students are equipped with the real-world skills they need for a successful career. Classroom learning is only half the story and it’s crucial that young people get out and into a workplace to see for themselves exactly what’s involved.

“This project not only gave our students a chance to develop a wide range of employability skills, it also showed them the wide range of career options within this exciting industry. It was a huge success and we are very proud of how all our students performed.

“We are hugely grateful to the London Marriott Hotel County Hall for engaging with us and giving our students such a fantastic opportunity.”

London’s hotel, restaurant and catering services, leisure and sports industries is forecast to grow by 2.9% over the next six years meaning 3,500 new jobs. Employers will need to look closer to home in order to find reliable and highly trained staff to cover the shortfall caused by the UK’s exit from the EU.

Travel and Tourism Level 3 student Lois Buckland shadowed the Hotel’s General Manager taking part in day-to-day operational business meetings regarding marketing, finance, HR, and even one to discuss the Hotel’s response to the current coronavirus pandemic.

“This has been a very eye-opening week for me and one I won’t forget in a hurry,” says Lois, “I wanted to do something like this and really challenge myself. Nothing extraordinary is ever going to happen for you if you simply stay in your comfort zone - and this week certainly has been extraordinary.”

Other students taking part have also lots to say about their own personal work experience challenges this week. Here’s just a few:
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Lucy Durell, 18, is a Hospitality Level 2 student hoping to become a professional pastry chef. She said: “I’ve been given the biggest welcome here and the staff are just lovely throughout. It’s almost like working for a family business - everybody is supportive, amiable, polite and helpful. I’ve learnt lots this week and sad that it’s got to end.”
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Noureldin Ahmed, 19, is studying Entry Level 3 ESOL. He is over the moon to be given the chance to take his first step into the hotel business. He is working as a Porter but would like to become a hotel manager one day. He said: “I’ve loved it. The training we got at the beginning of the week has been very useful - this isn’t just a job carrying people’s cases, it’s more about being sociable and ensuring your customers are being taken care of. Everybody starts somewhere in this business and learns the ropes before really taking off.”
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Nick Ackland, 17, is also studying Travel and Tourism and has been privileged to don a traditionally smart Crombie coat and welcome guests as they arrive. He said: “There’s a lot more to this job than meets the eye. I worried that I might get bored and fidgety but it’s been anything but. Working alongside and observing my two bosses Alba and Mark has led me to consider this as a potential career; I hadn’t even considered it before. You really need a big personality and be chatty, funny and reassuring. You also need to know how to get things done and act quickly in certain situations.”
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Angela Tasarra, 19, studies ESOL at Level 1 and wants to progress to an Accountancy course at the College next year. She is working with the Housekeeping service. She said: “What I’ve learnt above all else during this programme is how to see the bigger picture of working in such a prestigious hotel like this. Whether you are in housekeeping, concierge or general manager, you fulfil an important role and are a crucial cog in the engine.”
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Heidi Eaves, 17, studies Level 2 Business at our Bexley Campus. She was very keen to embrace every opportunity this programme would bring and is impressed with how much she has learnt in just one week. She said: “I hope one day to work as a paralegal but don’t really want to go through the university system to get there. I’d much rather go along the apprenticeship route where I can learn everything I need by actually doing the job from day one. That’s pretty much how I operate and so this work shadowing programme has been truly amazing."
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If you are interested in a career in the hotel, tourism and leisure industries, London South East Colleges has a great range of courses to get you started. Apply at LSEC.ac.uk

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