YCI – How hotels can change lives

YCI - life changing opportunities

YCI - life changing opportunities

The Youth Career Initiative is a proven programme that helps hotels meet the need for skilled young people to recruit whilst also helping some of the most disadvantaged young people in their neighbouring communities. Here’s why it works.

YCI is a transformational programme that works to bridge the gap between a lack of skilled and talented people to recruit to the hospitality industry and the simultaneous global youth unemployment problem. ITP works in 15 countries around the world with local hotels and non-governmental organisations to identify young people with very limited socio-economic prospects but a yearning to improve. The selected young people are then given a six month training programme of classroom based learning as well as hands-on experience in a wide range of hotel departments, coupled with support and mentoring to give them a well-rounded foundation for recruitment to a range of industries or to return to higher education.

The programme has an 85% success rate for graduates going on to work in hotels, other sectors or returning to college. Here are some examples of YCI success stories.

Ranjeet – YCI Delhi

Born into a farming family, Ranjeet left school at the age of 18 to pursue work as a waiter in a small local hotel. However, as he puts it “this job really didn’t make me feel happy or fulfilled, and I was dissatisfied as I had no direction of how, if at all, my career there could develop. That’s where YCI came in.”

Upon learning about the programme, Ranjeet grew excited at the thought of being exposed to working life at a bustling 5 star hotel in India’s capital. He applied, and soon commenced training at the Westin Gurgaon. Giving credit to his mentor, Ankur Varma, Ranjeet observed for himself how he developed from an initially shy young man into a lively and confident one. When asked about his favourite part of the programme, he replied:



“Honestly, that’s a very difficult question for me to answer as I loved every part of the six months. My mentors really helped me to improve myself, teaching me how to behave in a hotel environment, what to do and what not to do. My life is so much better as a result.”

Due to his success throughout the programme, Ranjeet was invited to give a speech at the YCI Delhi graduation ceremony in 2013, where he spoke eloquently about the value of YCI, and its potential to improve the lives of other young people like him:

“YCI was an opportunity to explore the hotel industry. Now I have opened up, I am more confident, I can talk a little English now. I want to work in a hotel. There are many kids like me at my village who will get benefit from this if these hotels continue their support further.”

After graduating from the programme, Ranjeet secured employment at the Crowne Plaza New Delhi, where he works as a waiter. As he keeps developing his skills and his career, he is increasingly keen to pursue work in a hotels overseas.

Keila – YCI Brazil

Keila comes from Parelheiros, a southern suburb of Sao Paulo. She is an only child and lives with her parents. Her father works as an equipment operator in the construction sector and her mother looks after the family home.

After finishing elementary school, Keila could not find a job due to her lack of experience. She remembers how competitive the labour market was, particularly since other candidates had a higher level of education than she did. Despite the fact that the family was not able to afford her going to further education, Keila always highly valued learning and studying. She used to help tutor children who were not performing well in school in her neighbourhood. It was during these tutoring sessions that Keila met the daughter of an employee of the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo hotel who told her about the YCI programme. At the time she used to dream of attending university and visiting other countries, but that seemed far from reality, she remembers now.



“When I heard about YCI, I was not sure if it was what I wanted. But I saw an opportunity to discover my vocation, refine my choices in life and to help me to get into a great company with a good reputation.”

Keila now sees that YCI was a great choice. Everyone gave her a lot of support, she devoted herself to learning new things and she received plenty of feedback on her personal development throughout the programme. She stresses that she was able to build on her communication skills, her flexibility and her sense of responsibility.

"I identified my skills as I was training in different areas. At the beginning I had difficulty in dealing with fellow participants who had very different personalities from my own. But then I understood the importance of listening to and respecting the views of others."

Keila was able to draft a plan for her career and most importantly gained a long-term perspective for her professional growth. She summarises her experience:

"This knowledge will stay with me for the rest of my life, and nobody can take that away from me. All these new insights surprise you. It is the opportunity to meet and get to know people for your future. It is a bridge to access international companies. You develop for life, become more mature and proactive."

Thanks in part to her dedication to the YCI programme, Keila received her first job within one month of graduating and started as Banquet Assistant at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo. She took the opportunity to join an English course that she paid for herself.

She tells us that her passion for the Banqueting department and her team stems from the fact that every day is different. Working in this particular department typically requires good people skills, and the ability to work around many last minute changes. Throughout her first year, Keila was busy developing her leadership skills and soon received her first promotion to Banquet waiter.

Her commitment, curiosity and interest for continuous development led Keila to initiate a departmental trainer course for new members and apprentices in the Banquets department. In her second year, Keila received another promotion and became a butler.

In 2012 Keila was ranked amongst the top ten professionals of 'Front of House' and later was named best employee of the year in a ranking of 500 people. She won a trip to Chile and Argentina at different Hyatt properties, fulfilling a dream to visit other countries. Keila also started to study Human Resources at university. She pays for the degree with her own salary in addition to helping her family with some household expenses.

Today Keila is still building her career at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo. Currently employed as a Concierge at the hotel’s Banquet Department, Keila aspires to become an Events Coordinator. 2016 marks her fifth year coordinating YCI at the hotel, and she’s excited to see how she develops further.

"YCI has changed my life and it has opened up opportunities for my career. If I had not had that opportunity I would not have so much perspective. Today I feel valued and acknowledged, I understand people better and I use my life story and my motivation to help them. I decided to take on the programme coordinator position in order to help others have the same opportunities as me."

Feda’a – YCI Amman

At the age of eighteen, Feda’a Al Tarsha graduated from high school and started her first job at a sweet and chocolate shop in Jordan. She was happy with her work, but wanted to pursue greater opportunities. However, as a shy young woman she needed a boost in confidence to chase her goals.

Her father provided continuous motivation and belief in his daughter’s abilities. He introduced her to YCI as a programme that empowers young people with life and work skills. He thought this would be the ideal opportunity for Feda’a to develop the confidence to fulfil her potential and become a self-sufficient young woman.

Feda’a applied to YCI in 2010 and became the only female to commence training at a 5 star hotel in Amman. Realising that she was the only woman in the programme, her insecurities got the best of her and she decided to decline the opportunity, returning to the sweets shop.

YCI started to gain momentum and popularity amongst Jordanian youth, and Feda’a began to think twice about the decision she had made. “At this point I was sure I missed out on a great opportunity with YCI,” she said.

Feda'a at work

Feda'a at work

From Trainee to Mentor

A year later Feda’a applied for the second time. She was accepted and joined Four Seasons Hotel Amman as a YCI Trainee in various departments including several operational departments.

She excelled as a trainee and quickly proved that she was more confident than she had ever imagined. At the end of her training she was offered a job as a casual employee at The Foyer Lounge - the hotel’s busiest gathering spot. Six months later, she was offered a job as a full time employee.

Not long after, Feda’a won the Employee of the Month Award, and her first year was crowned with winning Employee of the Year. Now a true role model, Feda’a transformed from a shy girl and flourished with new gained courage and confidence.

She said, “I am very comfortable working at Four Seasons Amman. I had people who believed in me even before I believed in myself. That boosted a turnaround in my personality and unleashed the confident side of me. YCI gave me confidence and the hotel solidified it.”

In 2014, Feda’a realised it was the perfect time to pursue further education; a step to support her climbing the hospitality career ladder. She is currently pursuing her two year diploma in hospitality at the Jordan Applied University.

YCI gives young people the chance not only to make career choices and have real ownership of their future, but also become pioneers and role models for others. Fedaa’s dad saw a role model in his daughter, and he was right. This once shy girl has inspired tremendous change. She now voluntarily mentors other young women joining the hotel in Food & Beverage:

“I had YCI as a mentor to lead me through my challenges and I have learned a lot from the programme and from Four Seasons Hotel Amman. I am passing on that experience and knowledge to my colleagues.”


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