A North travel firm has seen a record number of applicants for its apprenticeship scheme this year.
More than 1,200 people will be competing for 110 places being created by Hays Travel in 2014. Meanwhile, around 50 applications were received for two available graduate positions.
All the new starts will begin their training in the summer.
Hays Travel, the largest independently-owned travel agency in the UK, brought its apprentice training programme in-house in 2011 and has since received a glowing Ofsted report.
For two years in a row, the company has also won a place on the Top 100 UK Apprenticeship Employers List, compiled annually by the National Apprenticeship Service in partnership with City & Guilds.
To support the 2014 apprentice recruitment drive, the firm took part in National Apprenticeship Week by holding open days at a selection of branches, during which those interested could meet NVQ assessors and current apprentices.
The new recruits will be placed in head office roles, at branches of Hays and at branches of Bath Travel, which the company acquired last year.
Retail apprentices will go on to complete Travel Services NVQ Levels 2 and 3, while head office apprentices study towards a Business Admin Level 2 and Customer Service Level 2.
Head of training at Hays Travel, Katie Woods-Ruddick, said: “Hays Travel offer a highly-rewarding apprenticeship programme, which is the first step in what we hope to be a long and satisfying career with the company.
“We have so many success stories here at Hays of people joining us aged 16 and staying with us permanently, many of them going on to hold really senior positions in the company.
“We are delighted to have received so many applications, which shows there is an increasing demand for people to join a programme like ours.
“It means we can provide lots of people with a rewarding career, and also ensures that we bring high-quality recruits into the business.”
Hays Travel, which was established in 1980, grew from humble beginnings, with managing director John Hays founding it in the back of his mother’s childrenswear shop in Seaham, County Durham.
It now has more than 100 retail shops and employs more than 1,000 people, pulling in an annual turnover in excess of £650m.
Most of its retail presence remains within the North East, but the company also has several shops in the North West and some as far south as Sheffield.