A travel management company has set up the first training academy of its kind to attract fresh talent into the sector and create business travel agents of the future.

Giles Travel, part of The Giles Group, aims to train 18 students a year. It will run two programmes and is supported by some of the biggest travel management companies, airlines, hoteliers, car hire companies and rail operators. The group has ploughed more than £300,000 into launching the Giles Business Travel Academy, which is based in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

Group chairman David Giles said business travel was “barely recognised” within the curriculum of traditional travel and tourism courses or as a career option in colleges, and tended only to be taught in-house by business travel agencies.

“We have not come across anybody teaching business travel; people learn on the job,” he said.Giles said the academy would aim to increase awareness of business travel as a career option.

“The big problem we have is the lack of understanding of business travel as a career,” he said.

“We have been to colleges and they do not know what a travel management company is. We want to spread the word on how attractive a career it can be.”

The academy is expected to attract students aged 18-22 who have decided not to go to university, leisure travel staff who want to switch career, and people returning to the work place.

Companies backing the academy include Sabre, United Airlines and Evolvi. They have promised guest lectures, sponsorship and work placements.

The 24-week courses, the first of which begins on January 6, will be accredited by the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality.

Advantage Travel Centres is among those to have endorsed the training scheme, said Giles.