For our latest Know How Guide on Awareness of Human Trafficking, we spoke with Mr. Peter Simson, the Cluster General Manager of Hilton Hanoi Opera and Hilton Garden Inn Hanoi to find out about their involvement with the Youth Career Initiative's work with human trafficking victims
In 2012 - 2013 the Youth Career Initiative  programme that took place in Hanoi allocated 20% of training places to rehabilitated survivors of human trafficking. In next year's programme this allocation will increase to 25%. To facilitate this increase, YCI is running a specialised human trafficking awareness training workshop for hotels taking part in the scheme, including the Hilton properties above, next month.
YCI in Vietnam was first launched in 2010 with seven young participants being welcomed into the work and life skills programme that exposes them to over 15 skill areas within the hotel operations. The participants came from three SOS Children’s Villages near Hanoi. In May 2013, ten young people graduated from the YCI Vietnam country programme. The graduation ceremony was held at the Hilton Hanoi Opera hotel, celebrating the students completing six months of training at the Hilton and the Sheraton Hanoi. The Hilton property joined the initiative last year and so was also celebrating its first YCI programme cycle.
Mr. Peter Simson said: “We fully support the Youth Career Initiative in creating employability for the country’s youth and we are honoured to be a part of this important project in Vietnam.”
Peter Simson shed more on Hilton Opera Hanoi's involvement with the programme here...
Why did you choose to get involved in the YCI programme to support the victims of trafficking?
YCI in terms of act and deed really touches our core Hilton values and crystallized some of the activities that we were already engaged in. At the Hilton Hanoi Opera, we believe in supporting personal and professional growth opportunities. We are strongly committed to helping the communities in which we live and will continue to work to facilitate job creation and economic development and engagement for those that are less fortunate through the thoughtful extension of our time, talent, and assets to help address and support community needs.
Hilton Hanoi Opera’s support of the YCI program is also a firm commitment toward Hilton Hotels & Resorts’ global community relations program, Bright Blue Futures. Through Bright Blue Futures, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties around the world provide hope and stability to young people in communities where we live and work, by engaging, educating and preparing them for careers in hospitality.
Bright Blue Futures supports Travel with Purpose, Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to provide shared value to its business and communities around the world. As the driving strategy for Hilton Worldwide’s corporate responsibility efforts, Travel with Purpose is built on four areas of focus – creating opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential; strengthening local communities where we live, work and travel; celebrating cultures and the power of travel; and living sustainably through the measurement, analysis and improvement of the use of natural resources.
What are the benefits and challenges of engaging with the programme – for the staff, the individuals concerned and the business?
There has to be an honest dialogue for everyone involved. When things are going well we tend to take it for granted. Conversely when the road is bumpy and not going as planned, it’s time to be honest and frank in terms of expectation - identify the key changes required and who is responsible for making them. Sometimes we face problems with candidates not responding to training in the way we hoped. In this instance we have to ask a series of questions to address the problem, e.g. is the person suited to the area and department that they are working within?
If a participant is struggling we often find that allocating them to a specific department is preferable to the normal rotation. This enables the participant to clearly understand a job, a role, a responsibility while developing those all-important ‘life-skills’ that form part of their learning. In turn their colleagues get to know the participant better and this helps to develop a sense of mutual respect. For six months, all YCI participants are engaged in the hotel’s daily operations and we found that all our staff enjoyed helping them improve their skills and knowledge, and watching them developing within a certain role.
It is a really valuable experience for the hotel team members as it helps them to define their role, their importance within the organization and the need to share knowledge, communicate effectively, redefine their values, as they were assisting to train and develop someone else. In terms of challenges, I would say in Vietnam, that the language barrier is one of the main hurdles that restricts the YCI participants from some ‘truly open door opportunities’ to work across different departments and functions – which makes the English training that more important as it becomes a “life skill” for future opportunity.
Did you know much about the issue of trafficking before the YCI programme?
Sadly, yes. We are in a region where communities, families and individuals struggle to deal with the consequences of trafficking. Human trafficking is a scourge on society, with ever increasing risks for the individuals being trafficked as they become modern day slaves, caught-up in the criminal activities of others and lost in place and time as a result of their documents being confiscated by others making it extremely difficult to escape.
We at the Hilton Hanoi Opera recognize that we have a responsibility to play: our part while small contributes to rehabilitating those that have been less fortunate. The YCI programme helped to create shape and form to this issue for us and provide a platform for doing something about it. I think it is the flagship program in the hotel industry whereby young people who used to be the victims of human trafficking can be empowered to take control of their own destiny, through improving their opportunity to work while developing life skills which ultimately provides them with real career opportunities and a future.
Has the programme changed your thinking, that of your staff or had an effect on how you run your business?
The YCI programme is part of a series of programmes that we support at the Hilton Hanoi Opera. While we have just completed the first phase of our project with YCI, which lasted for 24 weeks, we have taken the opportunity to restructure the programme for the next phase so that collectively we are in a better position to meet the objectives. I do believe that the YCI approach will foster a positive change not only in the lives of the young people who are the beneficiaries, but it will also assist us in the hotel to empower our team members to make a difference – to build trust and engagement – not only for themselves, but for someone else too. The YCI project is a great example of a healthy collaboration between different stakeholders, which ultimately benefits our communities and us as individuals: it just makes good business sense. The hotel can grow and develop a pool of local talent, and assist to nurture loyal, well trained employees for the future.
For more information on human trafficking awareness within the hotel industry please see our Know How Guide: Human Trafficking Awareness
For more information about Bright Blue Futures, visit youth.hilton.com. For more information on Travel with Purpose, visit www.hiltonworldwide.com/corporate-responsibility