Best Practice: Workforce wise

IHG collaborates with 22 educational providers

More than 200 young Saudi nationals attended an IHG Academy job fair in Madinah, part of the IHG Academy Programme.
More than 200 young Saudi nationals attended an IHG Academy job fair in Madinah, part of the IHG Academy Programme.

IHG has partnered with 22 education providers and community organisations in the Middle East to offer skills and employment opportunities to the local markets it operates hotels in:

Nationalisation of the workforce is an issue at the forefront of the hospitality industry, particularly in the Middle East and Africa region. Through its global IHG Academy Programme, IHG is tackling this challenge head on.

Rational and objective
The IHG Academy Programme facilitates partnerships with community organisations and education providers in the markets IHG operates in, with the intention of offering skills development and improving the employment prospects of the local populations.

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The group also works with these partners to host career fairs and other recruitment initiatives, as IHG CEO for India, Middle East and Africa Pascal Gauvin explains: “We work with local organisations to give people work experience placements at our hotels as well as practical experience as employees and job seekers through, for example, job interviews and performance reviews.

“The IHG Academy is a core pillar of our corporate responsibility strategy. With our size and scale, we believe IHG can give a chance for better employment prospects to people who may not have otherwise entered our industry,” he continues.

“There is a diverse range of jobs to be found in the hotel industry which people may not be aware of. We want to give people the opportunity to experience these and develop the skills they will need to be able to seek out opportunities for themselves in the long term,” adds Gauvin.

Through this programme, IHG has three main goals: It aims to create genuine, worthwhile partnerships with the communities in which it has hotels located within and to invest in the people in those communities.

Secondly, the group wants to create local economic and employment opportunities in the communities around its 4500-plus hotels worldwide.

Finally, through the programme it intends to provide a pool of skilled and motivated individuals who are “passionate about delivering outstanding service for guests”, according to Gauvin.

Concept and investment
In order to achieve these goals, IHG has developed a set of criteria that is followed by all of its programmes around the world.

The Academy Programmes must operate in partnership with local community organisations and education providers. They must include a work-experience placement — giving participants skills and real experience working in a hotel.

Programmes should also include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion to give the participant experience of the job interview process and improve their chances of finding a job in the hotel sector, and in many cases, securing a job in an IHG hotel.

“The key to success for our IHG Academy programmes is that they are sustainable and therefore not costly — we try to tap into existing resources, skills and knowledge,” says Gauvin.

“For most IHG Academy programmes, our main investment has been our people’s time – our hotel colleagues take part in IHG Academy working groups. Our colleagues help deliver quality work experience placements and in many cases also get involved in mentoring and school presentations,” he explains.

To help manage this programme, along with other global core corporate responsibility initiatives, IHG has dedicated resources within its corporate responsibility team, including a board committee and a community strategy committee.

In practice
The group has established IHG Academy Programmes around the world. In the Middle East, the group has formed 22 academy partnerships.

These include six in Bahrain with AMA University; Bahrain Institute of Hospitality; Delmon University; Ministry of Social Development; Tamkeen BDO Jawad; and the University of Bahrain.

IHG has one partnership in the UAE with European International College Abu Dhabi; one programme currently underway in Kuwait with the American University of Kuwait and a partnership formed in Oman with the College of Applied Science.

In Jordan, the group has partnered with Vocational Training Centres and the Youth Career Initiative, while in Lebanon it has one partnership with Social Movement.

The greatest number of IHG Academy Programmes in the Middle East, however, are underway in Saudi Arabia, where hoteliers must comply to strict quotas under the country’s Nitaqat Saudisation programme.

There are nine programmes that are ongoing in the Kingdom through various academic partnerships with Madinah College of Tourism; King Saud University; King Abdul Aziz University; Institute of Public Administration; Technical and Vocational Training Corp; Yanbu Industrial College; Makkah Technical Institute; Dammam University; as well as Prince Sultan college — Alfaisal University.

The results to date
Asked what impact these partnerships have had on InterContinental Hotels Group and the local markets it operates in, Gauvin says: “We have 150 IHG Academy programmes in 37 countries worldwide and more than 100 further programmes in the pipeline.

“There are currently more than 10,000 participants benefiting from the programme. The numbers of participants securing jobs varies from programme to programme as each is tailored to fulfill a different local need”.

However, in late 2012, IHG rolled out an online portal that will enable it to track participant numbers and share best practice across its hotels.

“This will enable us to track how many participants are employed and help as many participants as possible gain employment following their training,” explains Gauvin.

Yasser Abdulhamid Shahat, IHG Academy student, InterContinental Jeddah and King Abdul Aziz University
InterContinental Jeddah partnered with King Abdul Aziz University to create an IHG Academy programme, which gives students at the university on-the-job training in the hospitality industry.

Some students complete 60 hours of on-the-job training while others work for four months full time as part of their university degree. Students work across different sectors in the hotels. The atmosphere in the hotel is wonderful.

The staff are all very friendly and it is like one big family here; it is a nice environment to work in. The training I am receiving at InterContinental Jeddah is meeting my expectations and I am gaining good practical knowledge about the job and about IHG as a brand.

This experience has motivated me to come back after graduation and work in the hotel industry. I would also recommend the Academy programme to my friends.

Muhammad Naeem Atta Junaidi, former student, Vocational Training Institute, Ain Al-Basha, Jordan and InterContinental Jordan
InterContinental Jordan partners with the Vocational Training Centres (VTC) in Jordan, of which there are 12, to train a selection of employees for a period of six months. Candidates are interviewed and selected through job fairs.

I came to the Vocational Training Institute, Ain Al-Basha, after not having any luck in high school exams and was selected to train for six months at InterContinental Jordon. I have been trained in the production of food, service and housekeeping departments and learned many things including how to speak English and how to deal with many different types of guests.

Now that I have enhanced my communication skills and professionalism, I have become more relaxed and confident while talking with the guests. I have increased my knowledge and my career prospects.

Saeed Shalaby, IHG Academy job fair attendee, Saudi Arabia
In the Middle East, the first IHG Academy programme was initiated at the Madinah College of Tourism, Saudi Arabia.

In 2012, there were 26 students from the Madinah College of Tourism who were hosted by both Madinah hotels, InterContinental Dar Al Iman and InterContinental Dar al Hijra. Of those 26 students, 14 were hired during the year.

When I arrived at the job fair I was expecting to go inside an office, submit my documents and wait for a call from HR. Instead, we were escorted around the hotel and treated to a presentation about IHG and what our future with the company could look like.

I am proud to say that I have just joined the engineering department at InterContinental Dar Al Iman as a maintenance manager. 

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