Emma and Sean at Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express logoWorkFit North West has recently been working with Holiday Inn Express (part of the IHG Group) in the Manchester area. IHG Academy are offering work-based learning opportunities to candidates in the area which will combine paid employment for one morning a week with a City & Guilds NVQ Level 1 in Hospitality.

Following a successful informal interview process, Emma and Sean began their work-based training on 6 July.

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Emma’s first assignment is as Breakfast Assistant, which involves assisting guests, re-stocking breakfast items, clearing tables etc. Jennifer, Guest Service Manager says:

“Emma joined the team as a Breakfast Guest Service Assistant at Holiday Inn Express on the 6th July and has already made quite an impression!

Even in just the short time she has been with us we have seen her grow in confidence, chatting with the guests and her colleagues. Emma is willing to learn new things and is enthusiastic about the job role and is picking up her tasks quickly. Emma’s work ethic has been noted both by guests and staff and she brings a smile to the faces of her team members on shift.

We have been given a great deal of support from both the Downs Syndrome Association and Emma’s family to help Emma integrate into the team.

We hope to see Emma become more independent and confident in the future as she settles into her new role as part of our team.”                                                     

Emma says: “The people are friendly.  I like Jen, she is helpful.  I like my job.”


Like Emma, Sean is also delighted to be taking up this fantastic opportunity for work-based learning. Sean is working with his mentors, Dennis and Lydia to develop a range of skills in the hospitality industry. Sean is currently working as a Breakfast Assistant too. Sean says: I like the job and the staff at the Holiday Inn and look forward to going there regularly”.

4-workfit-nwSean’s colleagues were keen to express their views about the programme: “Our experience to date has been amazing! To be able to offer Sean the chance to gain valuable work experience whilst working towards an NVQ fills us all with pride. He has fitted into the team really well and is pleasure to work with. He brings a smile to our faces and makes mornings fun! We are all looking forward to guiding Sean through this year.” Beverley (Hotel Manager).

“WorkFit has had a hugely positive impact on Sean, myself and the entire hotel. It’s a fantastic programme that supports people to gain employment and training and offers employers access to a diverse and capable talent pool. I know Sean is really enjoying his job and has already learned some valuable skills. I am very grateful for the scheme as it has allowed me to gain additional, invaluable skills and actually furthered my professional career and, last but not least, it has enabled me to work with a fantastic new employee. Sean is one of the most popular members of the team and has had a really positive impact on everyone here.” Dennis, (Guest Service Assistant).

Both Emma and Sean are receiving fantastic support and training from colleagues at Holiday Inn Express who are enthusiastic and committed to the programme.

The NVQ course has been specifically tailored to the needs of people with learning disabilities and incorporates a range of assessment techniques including observation, questioning, photo, and video –evidence-gathering to ensure that the learners are given as much flexibility as possible to complete the course and demonstrate their skills and abilities.

The IHG Academy provides local people with skills development and employment opportunities within one of the world’s largest hotel companies. Each IHG Academy is tailored to meet the needs of local communities and hotels (within a common framework).

All IHG Academy programmes have three things in common:

  • they operate in partnership with local community organisations and education providers.
  • they include a work experience placement, giving participants skills and real experience of working in a hotel.
  • they include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion, giving participants an opportunity to gain real experience of the job interview process, improving their chances of finding a job in the hotel sector and in many cases to secure a job in an IHG hotel.


For more information about WorkFit please contact the team on 0333 1212 300 or email us on dsworkfit@downs-syndrome.org.uk

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