Riu Hotels & Resorts are to the fore in establishing a hotel school as a means of addressing the lack of qualified personnel that was evident this summer. The company's director of training, Pere Torrens, says that "the goal is to have qualified workers to provide the best service and be more competitive". To this end, the Riu Playa Park in Playa de Palma is to be used for a pilot project this winter.

Torrens was director of the SOIB employment service in the Balearics for three years. He explains that this idea came up during discussions with the Balearic government's director-general for employment, Llorenç Pou, during the pandemic. Funds were available to launch the project, with the first course - for bar and dining room - set to start on November 14.

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The hotel in Playa de Palma will be a training centre, a hotel school, for the next five months, and it will be subsidised by the SOIB. A key aim is to recruit unemployed people in the tourism sector, and Riu will commit to hiring 60% of the people who complete the training programme.

Over the summer, hotel companies faced staff shortages for a variety of functions. In tackling this, the SOIB has allocated 700,000 euros to a training scheme which, as Pou points out, complements established training centres. The difference with this scheme, he says, is that "it is the private sector asking for the training courses, as the purpose is to solve the problem of a lack of workers".

Other hotel groups - Viva, THB and Iberostar - are looking to offer similar courses once an evaluation has been made of the Riu pilot. Meliá say that the initiative "is very positive". "We are going to consider it, as in the Dominican Republic we have hotel schools."