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I’ve been working with YCI for a year, and in this time I’ve seen the extent of the programme’s impact on the young people who learn and train with us, as well as our ambitious plans for the future beginning to unfurl, with new programmes launched in Kenya and the Maldives.
YCI operates in 126 hotels in 16 hotel groups and with the aid of global and local non-profit partners. To date, over 3,000 young people, including over 60 survivors of human trafficking, have graduated from YCI across the 15 countries in which we operate. According to our tracking surveys, 73% of them go on to secure employment, and an additional 12% pursue further education.
YCI’s Success Stories
The thousands of young people who have graduated from the programme have benefited from a unique employability programme, offering exposure to a thriving industry in which they hone and develop life and work skills. In so doing, they are better equipped to seek secure employment, setting them on the road to becoming economically self-sufficient and empowered individuals.
One example is Chung, a YCI Vietnam graduate. After becoming an orphan along with his two sisters at the age of fourteen, he quickly became the sole provider for his family. A neighbour introduced him to YCI, believing that the programme would equip him with the confidence and skills to pursue a career. Initially shy and introverted, Chung grew in confidence as he saw for himself how he was developing throughout the programme. Sure enough, after graduating from the programme he was hired by the Intercontinental Hanoi Westlake as a pastry chef. Reflecting on the six month programme, Chung said:
“I started the programme with no certainty of what I will be and an unclear future. But now I know my path as a pastry chef at a 5 star hotel. Today, I am so happy. My family and people who care for me are also happy for me.”
Chung’s transformation was clear to those around him, particularly when he delivered a speech at the YCI Hanoi graduation ceremony in 2015. Ngoc Hang, YCI Coordinator at REACH Vietnam (our NGO partner) commented:
“Chung was shy and quiet at the start of the programme, but after six months, and with the support and guidance of hotel staff and mentors at REACH, he has become a lively and active young man. He delivered a speech at the graduation ceremony on behalf of YCI graduates, and he answered interviews with the newspaper confidently.”
Beyond Vietnam, similar stories can be told about the thousands of YCI graduates who have successfully completed the programme, with their mentors at YCI participating hotels and non-profit partners being able to speak of the transformation. As Jorge Berrio, former General Manager at the JW Marriott Mexico City said:
“When the young people arrive, they barely look you in the eye. When they graduate, they speak English and interact with customers. It’s a magical transformation."
Plans for the Future
Testament to YCI’s impact to date, and ambitious growth plans, the programme was recently shortlisted as a finalist in WTTC’s 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. If we are fortunate enough to win, the award would give unprecedented exposure to the programme, supporting YCI’s growth plan and impact, and thousands more YCI students around the world.
This year is a pivotal moment for YCI, with plans to expand operations from the Middle East to Asia Pacific, and I’m excited to see how far the programme’s impact can reach over the coming years. Hotels can be a part of our bid to help young people out of poverty and unemployment or they can invest in programmes local to them.