AHLA offers apprenticeships for future hotel managers
Hotel employees and hospitality students who want to become managers have an opportunity to learn the necessary skills, gain experience, and earn a wage through the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Lodging Manager apprenticeship program.
The program offers benefits for both employers and employees. Nationally, the retention rate for apprentices across all industries is 91 percent; thus, it’s likely that implementing apprenticeships will help reduce turnover rates in hospitality. An apprenticeship program offers employers a pipeline of skilled workers who can step into management roles, and federal funding is available for a portion of apprentices’ wages. Employees benefit because they can progress toward a management position and because they receive education that is up-to-date, relevant, and aligned with their job duties. And because apprentices are paid, they don’t have to sacrifice their earnings to study and gain qualifications, and they don’t have to make a tough choice between their finances and their future.
“It's a great opportunity for employers to access a skilled and quality workforce, while also increasing their retention rates,” says Shelly Weir, Senior Vice President of Career Development at the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “And for employees, it offers them an opportunity to have a structured, on-the-job training program, that can be supplemented with classroom education, either in person or online, and they can earn while they learn. It's an opportunity for them to earn a paycheck from day one. And in our particular program, because we actually created and registered a management-level program, it gives apprentices and employees the opportunity to be on an accelerated path to management, in a very structured program, while they're earning a wage.”
Apprentices can earn qualifications that are well-respected by employers and that they can take with them throughout their career. “While they're in the program, they're also going to have the opportunity to earn a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as from the American Hotel & Lodging Association,” Weir notes. “In addition to that, they have the chance to earn additional industry certifications from AHLA, like the certified hospitality supervisor, so these are leading credentials that are recognized by the industry globally. It really gives them a leg up for their future career path, and certainly shows employers that they have mastered the skills necessary to be success in this industry.”
“While employees are in the apprenticeship program, they are studying to become a manager at a hotel,” Weir continues. “The level of management will vary based on the size and type of property.” In a full-service property, apprentices may work toward the position of a department head, while in a limited-service property, an apprentice could study to become an assistant general manager or a general manager.
The educational component of the program is synced with on-the-job application of concepts, so the curriculum is always relevant to what apprentices are experiencing at work. For example, “if they're in their financial management rotation, and they're learning about how to analyze a profit and loss statement with their on-the-job mentor, at the same time, they're taking classes in this online setting to teach them how to do that from the academic side,” says Weir.
The curriculum teaches leadership and management skills as well as technical content related to each area of hotel operations. “They're really getting a full preview of what it's going to be like to manage a hotel, from all the different departments related to safety and security, housekeeping, food and beverage, front desk management, revenue management, financial management, etc., with a strong emphasis on building their supervisory and leadership skills,” Weir says.
The apprenticeship is competency-based, so apprentices spend as much time as they need to master the material before moving on to the next skill. On average, apprentices complete the program in about six months. Those who don’t have much prior experience in the hospitality industry may takea little longer to finish the program.
Apprentices may be graduates of hospitality degree programs, although a degree isn’t required to participate. And students who are currently enrolled in college programs can become apprentices; their academic coursework can serve as the educational component of their apprenticeship. In the future, participants in the apprenticeship will be eligible to receive credit for the program from certain colleges, which will allow them to progress more quickly toward a hospitality degree.
People who are interested in participating in the apprenticeship program should visit AHLA.com/apprenticeship to learn more. They can also contact the AHLA through the site to be connected with employers who are accepting apprentices.