AHLA launches grant for young hospitality professionals
A bright future in hospitality will be more realistic for the youth of tomorrow, thanks to a new American Hotel & Lodging Association grant worth $500,000.
Currently, six million young people, between the ages of 16 to 24 are out of school and out of work. To help bridge this gap, Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) recently presented national non-profit organization, Grads of Life, with a commitment to provide $500,000 in grants to community organizations in high-demand markets, including Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and Baltimore, in effort to recruit and develop young talent.
The financial commitment is part of AHLA’s Empowering Youth Project, an initiative of the Dreams Happen Here campaign. The national awareness effort showcases career advancement opportunities, community commitment, and economic importance of hotel and lodging businesses to every city and state across America.
With 600,000 job openings in hospitality, the grants aim to “fill a critical labor shortage in the long-term by joining with community-based organizations to attract youth for careers in the hospitality industry, according to a press release on the commitment,” according to the AHLA's announcement.
Organizations slated to receive funding include Los Angeles and Chicago LeadersUp, Center for Urban Families and Maryland New Directions in Baltimore, Covenant House and Goodwill in Washington, D.C. Money will be used to help illuminate long-term career paths for youth, provide them with technical and soft skill development, support employer and young adults through work-based experience, advise them and provide coaching during hiring and continue to mentor them post-hire to ensure strong retention, according to Shelly Weir, Senior Vice President of Career Development at the AHLA Educational Foundation.
Already putting some of the funds in to motion, just this month, in celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, the AHLA committed $50,000 in grants towards community organizations in Baltimore to recruit and develop talent here.
“The hotel industry supports more than eight million jobs across the United States and this grant in Baltimore is another step in our continued commitment to creating opportunity and economic mobility by investing in our workforce,” said Weir at a recent event to announce the gift.
On the occasion, Maryland Department of Labor Secretary, Kelly M. Shulz provided AHLA with a proclamation in honor of National Apprenticeship Week from the Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, whose administration is committed to using apprenticeships to foster job and career opportunities.
Seed money has been provided to businesses and programs that are committed to creating such real-world work opportunities to meet workforce needs. In partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, AHLA has made a national commitment to the U.S. Department of Labor to train some 2,500 apprentices in the hospitality industry over the next five years. To date, AHLA had not just met, but exceeded that goal, by more than 175 percent, securing more than 400 commitments from AHLA’s hotel membership.