ARTICLE: 5 reasons youth groups should connect to hospitality companies, and vice versa

Hilton Worldwide

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The hospitality industry is uniquely positioned to positively impact global youth well-being. Doing so, however, means that we must leverage our full arsenal of assets and work with civil society and multilaterals as strategic partners in creating sustainable opportunities for economic growth and youth empowerment.

Of the world’s 1.2 billion young people, 75 million are unemployed and countless more face challenges entering or remaining in the workforce. Here are five reasons development organizations should be connecting to hospitality companies to foster sustainable youth development, and vice versa.

1. The hotel sector continues to grow rapidly and drive economic development. Unlike some industries that are struggling to shake off the post-recession malaise, the hotel sector continues to grow: Between 2010 and 2015, the projected growth rate is 45 percent, from $584 billion to $848 billion. That means new and improved properties in developed and emerging global markets that need employees. Each property is a microcosm of opportunity for development, and each company in this industry is a potential partner for you and your organization.

2. Hospitality, travel and tourism offer high-quality, entry-level jobs to youth in developing countries. By 2022, travel and tourism will employ 328 million people, creating 73 million new jobs. That might be a front desk job in South Africa, a food and beverage manager in Laos, or an entry-level position in myriad cities across the globe where a young person has the opportunity to get a job, earn an income, and gain and build experience. Research from the Overseas Development Institute shows that of all parts of the travel and tourism sector, global hotels are the most likely to improve a worker’s economic well-being.

3. Youth who see a career path build their communities. Young people who are connected to jobs where a career path and training opportunities are available tend to stay more consistently employed. Companies that incorporate youth development into their business models through investments in pre-employment training and on-the-job professional development help attract and retain young people to the industry. Long-term economic development depends on a workforce that works, and young people that are earning an income are able to improve their economic condition and avoid destructive periods of inactivity.

4. Companies that invest in youth and sustainability meet their business needs today and for the future. Our commitment at Hilton Worldwide to Travel with Purpose ensures that across the full range of our more than 4,200 properties in 93 countries around the world, we are working to strengthen our communities by supporting local suppliers and human rights, to celebrate the cultures and diversity that thrive around us, and to live sustainably to have a positive influence on tomorrow. We partner with development organizations like the International Youth Foundation to create opportunities for youth globally and to develop thought leadership to encourage our industry peers to do the same.

5. The hospitality industry is more than just a funding partner. Companies collaborate in myriad ways with development organizations to advance youth development. Organizations should consider how to leverage our human and intellectual capital, create linkages to our networks of owners, distributors, supplies, and partners, convene new partners and use our global marketing and communication channels to strengthen and amplify social messages.

As a corporate responsibility executive with extensive development experience, I tell our team members and partners all the time that global development is not charity — it is business acumen.

Youth development in particular helps to ensure that our hotels have the employees they need to service an increasingly interconnected world of travel. Community development builds a base for tourism to grow because tourists travel to places that are secure and vibrant. Building powerful partnerships with civil society is paramount to bringing shared value to our company and the communities where we live, work and travel.

To learn more, read the white paper “Creating Opportunities for Youth in Hospitality” and attend our plenary session “Youth in Hospitality, Travel, and Tourism” at this week’s Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit in Washington, D.C.

Devex is a proud media partner of Making Cents International’s Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit. Now in its eighth year, this annual summit attracts more than 450 funders, companies, NGOs, policymakers, youth leaders, educators and researchers from more than 55 countries. The 2014 edition will take place in Washington, D.C.  on Oct. 6-8.

Jennifer Silberman is vice president for corporate responsibility at Hilton Worldwide. With over 20 years of experience in economic development, sustainability, human rights, women's empowerment and youth opportunity in the United States as well as Latin America and Africa, Silberman joined the hotel chain from APCO Worldwide, where she counseled Fortune 500 companies and global foundations on strategy and program design, measurement, stakeholder engagement, reporting and results-oriented philanthropy. She currently serves on the board of Pact.