The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) as well as its charitable giving arm, the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF), has long been invested developing the next generation of hotel managers. Together, these organizations launched the a hotel management apprenticeship program designed using more than 100 hotel competencies to offer management certifications aligned with apprenticeship fundamentals. This industry-created program offers participants a direct path to upper management and credential attainment.
Since the launch of the apprenticeships, the program has yielded a 94 percent retention rate for employers. This impressive statistic means that more participating employers are enrolling new apprentices faster than ever.
This summer, several major hotel companies were proud to enroll apprentices and train them in essential hospitality skills. These companies included Remington, Hilton, Aimbridge, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Crestline, Paragon Hotels, and La Quinta.
LODGING checked in with Remington’s COO, Sloan Dean, about his experience with the company’s 20 apprentices this summer.
How long has Remington been involved with the apprenticeship program?
We decided we were going to participate last year and then had our first “class” the first half of 2019. It was such a success that we’re looking to increase participation by 200 to 300 percent over the next two to three years and make it part of our company’s DNA. We want it to be programmatic—every six months we have a class of 10 to 20 striving managers.
What was the process of enrolling apprentices like?
Apprentices had to be nominated by their general manager or VP of operations. From there, HR vetted the applicants and we had them fill out a commitment questionnaire. We made final decisions based on those results. I want to note, though, that we had far more applicants than slots. There’s a real appetite for this type of program, and when you have dozens of people apply and only 20 slots, it can get real competitive. That’s why we’re already in the process of setting up our next round of apprentices. Our second ‘class’ will be launched by the first of next year, if not earlier.
What feedback have you gotten from the apprentices so far?
Every single apprentice that I’ve been able to talk to personally has mentioned the quality of the program and the solid foundation that it’s providing for earning certifications. They also like that the program is self-paced, so it blends well with busy work schedules and at-home responsibilities.
Additionally, our apprentices have told us that they see this program as an investment in them and their careers, which helps with retention. When we offer programs like this, our talent is more likely to build their careers with us rather than transferring to another company.
What benefits have you seen from the program?
The program is very much a way for us to improve skillsets, empower our associates, and, as previously mentioned, increase retention. There is a war for talent right now, and you don’t want to lose talent to competitors because there may be better opportunities elsewhere. We think this apprenticeship program is key to improving bench strength for tomorrow.
Why are programs like this so important in the hotel industry?
AHLA has noted that there are more than 1 million open jobs in the hotel industry—and that number is growing. We have a shortage of talent in just about every department. Consider that many of our housekeepers could leave and make $5 more an hour to pack boxes at an Amazon Fulfillment Center. If we can show that hourly associate a career path to manager, it goes so far in retaining them. Further, AHLA’s apprenticeship program provides tangible, concrete, training to help them get there. It’s such a valuable program and goes really far in elevating apprentices’ careers. And, as word about it gets out, it will not only help us find new talent, but also perhaps steal it from other industries.