As one of the world’s largest employers, the hotel industry is constantly seeking new talent and committed, service-oriented people to join its ranks. However as the numbers are often not naturally forthcoming, the sector has a role to play in engaging young people, showing them the opportunity in the industry, and offering them employability training. Not only that, but to contribute convincingly to the Sustainable Development Goals, the industry needs to be reaching larger numbers of unemployed young people.
Over a decade ago ITP developed the Youth Career Initiative to help hotels do just that. This award-winning programme helps hotels all around the world work with local non-profit partners to identify disadvantaged young people who are eager to learn and improve their long-term prospects. The model is successfully operating in 14 countries, with immediate plans to expand to six more, and nowhere is the impact and success more clearly demonstrated than in India.
Youth unemployment in India is currently 12.9% and YCI continues to expand there. In the past year the programme grew to Jaipur, Pune and Goa, joining existing programmes in Delhi and Mumbai. These established programmes recently began a new rotation with 81 and 163 students respectively. More than 300 young people have already successfully graduated from these locations.
One of our hotel partners in India is IHG which operates a very strong employability programme in the country with more than 15 IHG Academies offering a range of employability programmes to local communities.
Michael Blanding, Asia, Middle East and Africa Director of Corporate Responsibility at IHG told us, “In India, we have the task of recruiting thousands of new employees over the next few years as we open hotels in our development pipeline.
“One of the most effective ways for us to achieve this is to train for the required skills through structured skills development programmes. Partnerships with local educational and skills training organisations in India make a big difference to the students and also enables us to actively contribute to our local communities in a meaningful and lasting way.”
Some IHG Academies in India partner with the IL&FS Institute of Skills (IIS) – one of India’s largest skills development organisations – providing IHG approved vocational hospitality training across the country. Following the three-month course, participants are able to apply for roles at IHG hotels in India and across the globe.
The programme supplements IHG’s on-going support of the Indian Government’s Hunar Se Rozgaar initiative, launched to create employability skills for young adults aged 18 to 28 who do not have access to specialised education. The partnership with IIS represented IHG’s first vocational programme in the country when it began in 2014.
Hotel groups like IHG and our other partners are making great strides in India, but the demand for talent and the need for young people to access opportunities continues to grow.
At the recent Hotel Investment Forum India (HIFI), Santosh Bhuvad, YCI’s Partnerships Manager for Asia Pacific was invited to chair a panel discussion on this issue, specifically describing the success YCI has achieved in fostering industry collaboration to address youth unemployment.
Also on the panel was Mr Raghu Sapra, General Manager at Hilton Mumbai International Airport. He said, “The need for programmes like YCI in India is huge, and at Hilton Mumbai we will continue to look at opportunities where we can support the youth of our country by giving them the opportunity to experience working life in a hotel.”
Joining the discussion were Mr. Saied Heidari, General Manager of the JW Marriott Sahar and Ms. Pooja Kawale, a recent graduate of the Mumbai programme, who shared the difference YCI has made to her future prospects. She said, “Before YCI I was not sure about my career and what I was going to do next but then I heard about the programme and I filled in the form. We had interviews and I got selected in JW Marriott Sahar as a trainee.
“YCI helped with our social development skills and English speaking classes, and by training in the hotel – by working in guest areas – we improved our communication and confidence.
“For other hotels I would say that it would be really good if you could offer chances to YCI students for career growth; I’m sure your experience of YCI would be great.”
The demand is there, the impact is clear, the resources are available, we just need more hotels to recognise the value and come on board. YCI Partnership Manager Santosh Bhuvad said, “The key to YCI’s success is the fact that each programme responds to the specific needs of the market in which it operates. YCI, by equipping students with vital work and life skills, helps them become economically self-reliant and break the cycle of poverty.”
YCI’s experience in India demonstrates the difference hotels and our member companies can make to the lives of young people and their families, and many are doing just that with new programmes beginning all around the world. But we need the industry to make a firm commitment to keep growing their employability programmes and helping more young people escape poverty. When we talk about commitments from the industry to drive a fairer future, we’re often looking at climate change and water risk. Youth employment is sometimes overlooked when we’re pushing hotels to set themselves big goals that will really make a difference. But we know the appetite is there, we just need to set the target to aim for.