BUDGET hotel chain Travelodge has launched the second phase of a campaign to recruit some of the UK’s two million unemployed parents into the hospitality industry.

The company, which has 568 hotels, is looking to fill 1,500 jobs, with parents supported through flexible hours, a “work buddy” and access to a management training programme.

The first phase of the campaign, launched in January, attracted 45,000 applications and saw all the positions filled. The initiative will offer 3,000 jobs in total.

Travelodge consulted its 11,000-strong workforce – more than half of whom are parents – when designing its parent recruitment programme. It also commissioned YouGov research into the challenges facing unemployed parents.

It found 86 per cent of unemployed parents wanted to return to work, but 59 per cent were put off by the scarcity of jobs that would fit around the school run as the biggest barrier. Six out of 10 said they had lost their confidence while raising a family and were apprehensive about returning to work.

Kirsty Willmore, manager of the Stoney Cross Lyndhurst Travelodge, joined the company 12 years ago as a housekeeper.

She had given up work in a pub in order to look after her son Brandon. “At first I really enjoyed it because I was able to spend so much time with my son, but after several months I really began to miss the social aspect of working life and I felt like I was losing my identity of being Kirsty,” she said.

“I really wanted a job that offered flexible working hours so that I could work but still be able to look after my son and my home. I was on a mission to find this perfect job but it certainly was not as easy as I thought it would be.”

She asked about work at her local Travelodge in Eastleigh and was offered a job on the spot.

“Within a few months of starting at Travelodge I had established a great routine of managing work and home life. I loved my job, the team were wonderful and I was so lucky to have a great manager. She was very supportive and encouraged me to learn new skills and take on more responsibility,” she said.

She trained to be a receptionist, was promoted to supervisor and won a place on the company’s Aspire management programme.

She graduated from the programme this year and took on the management of her own hotel.

“I never imagined that I could ever climb the career ladder into a management position. It was a dream come true,” she said.

“My proudest achievement is to have a beautiful son and still continue to climb the career ladder. I am a hotel manager now, which is not bad going for a housekeeping team member. I know I have a bright future at Travelodge and I still have a lot more steps to climb, as one day I would like to be a district manager,” she said.

Roles to be filled in the Travelodge campaign include managers, assistant hotel managers, receptionists, bar cafe staff, supervisors and housekeeping staff, as well as head office jobs.

The jobs come with guaranteed hours and benefits including 50 per cent discounts on hotel stays.