Three Apprentice Academies have been set up in Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to train school leavers for free before placing them in travel agencies and tour operators for three-month trial periods.


Training for Travel (TFT) has set up the academies and will train 38 apprentices aged between 16 and 18 in key areas such as selling skills, telephone techniques and customer service before trying to place them in an agency or travel call centre in February next year.


To overcome concerns over finances and candidates’ lack of experience, TFT has offered to pay each of the apprentices’ wages for the trial period. Employers will have the option to decide whether to offer the apprentice a full-time contract after three months.


TFT chief operating officer Beverley Platt said: “We understand agencies and operators are cautious about employing school leavers with no experience, so we’re offering to train them and pay their wages for the first three months to help get them started.”


Taking on apprentices makes business sense as their minimum wage is just £2.50 an hour, and the government has pledged not to cut funding which incentivises businesses to employ them, said Platt.


TFT hopes to benefit from the academies by fulfilling the apprentices’ NVQ requirements as their careers progress.


The company has demonstrated its own commitment by taking on 10 apprentices, all of whom are now in full-time employment and are fulfilling duties ranging from data entry to running social media campaigns.


Agencies and operators interested in taking on one of the first academy graduates are being invited by TFT to visit the scheme and assess potential recruits in order to shape their training.