Thomas Cook expects to receive hundreds of applications for its apprenticeship programme this week – despite its well-publicised financial woes – as school pupils await their GCSE results.

Thomas Cook has 100 places on offer, down from 125 in previous years, which HR director Julie Armstrong said reflected the retail climate.

Of those, 84 are in store and the rest in the business’s customer centre.


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Thomas Cook has closed more than 200 shops in the past three years and made 320 shop roles redundant earlier this year. The business is in takeover talks with Chinese group Fosun following a series of financial losses.

“We never have any problems attracting applications,” Armstrong said. “[Young] people are still interested in working in travel. They view it as an exciting industry and it still has a certain panache. Thomas Cook has a good brand in that regard so young people still see it as an option.”

She said Thomas Cook usually receives between 10 and 15 applications for each apprenticeship place available.

Apprentices go straight to work on the shop floor and are continually assessed by an in-house team for the two-year programme, which includes an online knowledge exam and a professional discussion with an independent assessor.

Armstrong said shop apprentices had a good record of staying with the business and developing their career.

Asked if Thomas Cook’s financial troubles could impact applications this year, she said: “We will have to wait and see. The airline didn’t have any problems when it advertised earlier this year, so it doesn’t feel like [a problem] at this point in time because people still see Thomas Cook has the ability to offer access to the travel industry.

“Clearly talks are ongoing, and as it stands there are no plans to change anything. We still see the programme as a core part of our ability to build capability within the organisation.”

tw4