A Solihull hotel’s decision to take on two apprentices for the first time has proved so successful it is to make the recruitment process standard policy.

Teenagers Sophie Allen and Maxine Owen have both landed permanent roles at the four-star St John’s Hotel on the Warwick Road, with 17-year-old Sophie being appointed PA to general manager Tony Hill.

They took up their 12-month apprenticeships – Maxine in the human resources department and Sophie in sales and marketing – in December 2010.

“It was an opportunity for us to help young people get into work, but we did it on a trial basis – we’d not done it before,” explains Tony, who is cluster general manager for the Principal Hayley hotel group, which owns St John’s.

“We were keen to work with the local community and we also wanted to bring in young people we could train from scratch, as it were, and help to flourish so as to give them a real career. That can be a bit of pipe dream sometimes, but when it works, it’s brilliant.

“Sophie and Maxine have gone in different directions within the hotel, but both have done really well and as a consequence of their success, taking on apprentices is to become hotel policy.”

Sophie, from Sheldon, joined St John’s after working in a call centre for two months. “That was my first job and I didn’t like it,” she says.

“I’d done a GCSE in leisure and tourism and really enjoyed it, so when I heard about the apprenticeship at St John’s I jumped at the chance. I was thrilled to get a permanent job as PA to the general manager.”

Maxine, who’s 18 and lives in Solihull, took up her apprenticeship after deciding sixth-form college wasn’t for her. She is now an HR administrator.

“After leaving school, I did two months at college, but as I didn’t want to go to university, I decided I really wanted to get a job.

"I liked it straight away at St John’s; being in HR is really interesting. You learn a variety of skills and I now have NVQ qualifications.

"In the current economic climate, doing an apprenticeship is a great way to get into a particular industry.”