IHG Academy at the BHA Summit and beyond

IHG Academy members at the BHA summit in June

IHG Academy members at the BHA summit in June

In June Green Hotelier attended the British Hospitality Association Summit hosted by the InterContinental Hotel Park Lane. Creating employment and skills opportunities through the hospitality industry in the UK featured high on the agenda.

The BHA kicked off proceedings by declaring their ambitious target of creating 300,000 new jobs in the sector by 2020 and the conference hosted numerous sessions on the ‘Big Hospitality Conservation’ in the afternoon.

In keeping with the principles of the day’s discussions, a number of IHG Academy participants past and present supported the smooth running of the event. Green Hotelier used the opportunity to catch up with Josephine Blundy, Sustainable Communities Manager at IHG and Laura Noctor, Director of Corporate Responsibility at IHG who work on rolling out the programme across IHG’s hotels globally. We also spoke with one of the participants about the benefits of the scheme and the importance of such programmes to get young people the skills they need to join the sector. Here’s what we found out...

Over 10,000 participants have received skills to improve their employment prospects in the hotel sector through more than 250 IHG Academy programmes around the world since its inception. In 2012 IHG added 100 IHG Academy programmes and created an online toolkit to help hotels join the programme. In 2013 IHG’s focus is on driving quality and continuing to embed the IHG Academy in the organisations hotels so that the programme delivers benefits to the hotels and participants.

An average IHG hotel employs 75 people and creates 4.25 other jobs in the community for each job they create. This huge economic impact comes with great responsibility, which IHG embraces through much of its CR activity, including the IHG Academy Programme

IHG Academy is a collaboration between individual IHG hotels or corporate offices and education providers and/or community organisations.  It gives local people the opportunity to develop skills and improve their employment prospects in one of the world’s largest hotel companies. It also ensures that the hotels have a pool of skilled, motivated and engaged people, who will create their own career progressions in the industry.

Although each IHG Academy is unique, to factor in different requirements around the world, they all have three things in common:

  • operate together with local community organisations and/or education providers
  • include a work experience placement, giving participants skills and real experience of working in a hotel
  • include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion, giving participants an opportunity to experience the job interview process, and improving their chances of finding a job in the hotel sector and in many cases, secure a job in one of our hotels.

Participants of an IHG Academy come from all walks of life, ranging from university graduates through to disadvantaged young people. This reflects the range of careers and opportunities for progression available at IHG.

Finding the right stock of employees is a major issue for the hotel industry around the world. In many cases the lack of a skilled workforce prevents developing nations from tapping into the economic benefits that travel and tourism have to offer. For instance, IHG are the largest international hotel operator in China but have found it difficult to attract and retain talented employees in the region. In house schemes like IHG Academy and independent programmes like the Youth Career Initiative are offering solutions that benefit youth, communities, employees and hotels.

A new IHG Academy opens in China

A new IHG Academy opens in China

Case Study: IHG Academy in China

Our IHG Academy programme in Chengdu is a shining example of how the programme improves local employment prospects and provides us with the talent we need for our hotels. Set up in 2008, the first batch of participants graduated in 2011 and all 67 of them are now employed by InterContinental Chengdu.

Chengdu is in Western China, an area of rapid growth in the hospitality industry, with the potential to grow even further. This gives our business a tremendous opportunity, at the same time presenting us with a challenge – to make sure the local community benefits from the economic opportunities such prospects open up and to find the talent we need to provide consistently great guest experiences in our hotels.

Working in partnership with Chengdu Vocational and Technical College, one of China's national modelling schools, we developed a three-year diploma. The programme in Chengdu includes guest lecturers from IHG, on-the-job training in the hotel, internships and invitations for students to take part in hotel staff activities, such as Careers Week and the Job Skill Competition. Additionally, the school established an IHG branded class, which gives students a strong sense of belonging.

As with other programmes, students are invited to apply for jobs with IHG once they've graduated. Asked about the reasons for its success, General Manager David Lim explained that it was important to get buy-in from the top – both at the college and across all departments in the hotel.

After that, it's down to the students. As Mr Lim explained to a group of students recently, 'There are plenty of opportunities in our company, but being successful ultimately rests in your hands. You need to be passionate about what you're doing and enjoy it every day. You need to set yourself goals and be committed to learning from the outset.'

Clearly his advice, and the programme, is paying off. On top of achieving a 100% employment rate for the first batch of graduates, the programme's success led to the InterContinental Chengdu being honoured as a member of Chengdu Vocational Education Group of Tourism, with the hotel's General Manager being selected as Vice Chairman of the group's Board of Directors.

Case Study: Martin Fish, IHG Academy participant UK

One of the IHG Academy participants at the British Hospitality Association Summit was Martin Fish, who is now excelling in a hospitality career with Holiday Inn.

Having done bar work in the past, Martin was keen to stay in the hospitality industry when he was made unemployed last year. Putting in over 15 job applications a week and not getting anywhere was hugely demoralising and challenging. He was consequently thrilled to get into the 3 week IHG Academy through Filton Holiday Inn.

‘It was a really friendly environment from the beginning and we were paired with a permanent member of staff from day one so there was always someone to ask questions and learn from... It still feels like a real work family, something I hadn’t experienced before’.

‘After the initial programme I managed to get one of the three internships with Holiday Inn. I was thrilled when after only 2 weeks I was nominated Employee of the Month.’

One of the best things about the scheme, Martin says, is the range of skills you learn that aren’t usually available in temping or semi-permanent jobs. He’s learnt about time management, working under pressure and team working. Martin is now fully committed to Holiday Inn and is keen to excel within his current role and hopes to be promoted to supervisor before too long.

For more information about the IHG Academy please go to: www.ihgacademy.com
International Tourism Partnership runs its own youth employment programme around the world. See Youth Career Initiative for more information.

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