Ben Bengougam: Connect, prepare, employ: one million young people by 2019

Hilton Worldwide are aiming  to create one million opportunities for young people in the next three years. Ben Bengougam talks about the measures put in place to achieve this.

Youth unemployment is staggeringly high. According to the International Labour Organisation, there are over 71 million unemployed youths across the world. In the UK alone, more than half a million (558,000) people aged 16-24 are without a job, and although this figure has been slowly decreasing, there is plenty more that can be done to help young people get into work.

Travel and tourism is the world’s largest employer, accounting for almost 10 percent of jobs globally, and it is expected to generate 73 million new jobs by 2022. This growth is important but simply creating more jobs is not enough. That is why Hilton made a global pledge in 2014 to engage with one million young people by 2019. This promise aims to open doors for the next generation in three key ways: Connect, Prepare and Employ, and in so doing help them to reach their potential.

Connect

The first step in helping young people enter the world of work and hospitality is educating them about the industry and the vast array of opportunities available. Traditionally, people think that roles in hospitality are limited to front of house, catering and custodian positions. In actual fact, the opportunities available are broad and varied, including positions in engineering, property development, event management, communications and, with the growing importance of technology to our business, digital innovation.

[email protected] Week, our largest annual career awareness initiative, is our way of showing the next generation what a career in hospitality is really like. Since the initiative launched three years ago, our hotels and corporate offices have opened their doors to more than a quarter of a million young people with job fairs, career guidance talks and job shadowing. Attendees gain a stronger understanding of our business, which enables them to make an informed decision about where to work and what to apply for.

Social media also has a huge part to play in inspiring millennials and generation Z. Team Members regularly take the reins of our @HiltonCareers Instagram and snapchat channels to give prospective candidates an insight into what working with us is really like.

Prepare

Whether you are a budding apprentice or a graduate trainee, starting work for the first time can be a daunting experience. With ‘Prepare’ we aim to develop young people’s soft skills to ease the transition and help them be successful in the workplace.

Created in partnership with The International Youth Foundation, our life skills training programme “Passport to Success” has trained more than 9,000 young Team Members and young people across 14 countries since its creation in 2012. The lessons we provide focus on leadership techniques, problem-solving skills, risk management processes and workplace success. We find that young people who have participated in the Passport to Success programme are self-motivated, reliable, productive, and confident decision-makers – all great skills that will make them better employees.

Employ

Employ provides a range of opportunities for all young people interested in starting a career with our business – whether they are fresh out of school or just leaving university.
Every year at our Apprenticeship Academy, we offer a range of programmes from professional cookery to front desk service and beyond. The Academy is fully funded, including tuition fees, travel expenses, and a salary, enabling anyone from any background to come and work with us. We are also involved in Galvin’s Chance, a work apprenticeship programme that gives vulnerable and at-risk individuals the opportunity to work in the hospitality industry.

Meanwhile, our graduate offering includes initiatives such as the Elevator Program which aims to fast track young people to the position of General Manager. Similarly, the Management Development Program aims to train the next heads of department. With these opportunities, we provide a structured career path in order to encourage growth and longevity with the company.

We also offer a Finesse Finance programme: a two-year development strategy, allowing the individual to work towards a finance director role. The graduate gains a deep understanding of the main Finance functions, while also learning about operations, business development, and human resources.
Next steps

We firmly believe that the hospitality industry holds the potential for anyone, from any background, to work their way up and succeed.

To date, we have connected, prepared and employed more than 550,000 young people through our Open Doors commitment around the globe. We know there is more to be done though, as we strive to break our one million target. We are not only equipping young people with the skills they need to have fulfilling careers in hospitality, we are also creating an engaged and highly skilled workforce for the future.

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