Local hotels and businesses are coming together to help get people in Rotorua off the benefit and into employment.

Fast Track is an AccorHotels-led programme that provides hospitality industry training and employment opportunities for Work and Income clients 18 and up.

The Ministry of Social Development have been working in partnership with Accor Hotels since 2009.

During that time AccorHotels have hired more than 720 Work and Income clients nationwide.


Mike Bryant, Bay of Plenty regional commissioner for social development, said due to rapid growth in the hospitality industry, there was a shortage of skilled workers.

This programme aims to help bridge that skill gap and provide sustainable employment opportunities for people.

The Fast Track programme is in its third year in Rotorua, running through Novotel and Ibis.

Thirty job seekers are currently taking part in a programme that started on July 24.

The key difference with the programme this year is that five other major hotels and businesses in Rotorua are now partners - Millennium, Rydges, Wairoa Spa, Regent of Rotorua and Sudima.

The Tourism Industry Aotearoa got behind the programme this year and drove getting the other hotels and businesses on board. It is hoped next year even more will join.

The five-week pre-employment training is provided by AccorHotels, with classroom and on-the-job training.

Mike Bryant said on satisfactory completion, participants would be offered an employment contract for a minimum of 25 hours per week at one of the hotels.

"This is a great opportunity for our young people to obtain the skills and experience needed to gain employment in the hospitality industry."

He said by working proactively with industry they could provide support to young people and deal with any obstacles that may come up along the way.

"Together we can find solutions that will enable their success and make them a valuable asset to our very important tourism sector."

Rotorua's Annalie Starr did the programme last year and is now a room attendant at Novotel.

She said it got her off the benefit and she could support her children herself.

Her self-esteem had been given and it was good for her children to see her going off to work, she said.

"We met new people and we all have a close bond now."

Novotel and Ibis human resources manager Julie Marino said the idea was to get everyone who came through the Fast Track programme off the benefit and working towards a National Certificate in Accommodation.

She said it was getting both young and old people back into the workforce.

"It's really important to give these guys a chance."

She said at Novotel and Ibis they would always hire locals.

"It's important for our guests to be served by people who know our town. They come to experience the local culture."

She said she loved the satisfaction of them coming in and seeing the pride they had.

"It's nice being able to make a difference."