A partner in good will

LAS VEGAS—InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently announced a partnership with Goodwill Industries International through its IHG Academy program.

Kate Gibson, IHG vice-president, corporate responsibility – sustainable communities.

Kate Gibson, IHG vice-president, corporate responsibility – sustainable communities.

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By
Kristen Smith

LAS
VEGAS—InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently announced a partnership with
Goodwill Industries International through its IHG Academy program.

IHG
Academy started in China in 2006 and expanded globally four years later; the
program has had about 10,000 participants to date. The IHG and Goodwill
partnership aims to help IHG reach its target of 20,000 participants by 2017 by
making connections between its branded hotels and Goodwill member organizations
(there are seven in Canada).

Kate
Gibson, vice-president, corporate responsibility – sustainable communities, said
with more than 1,000 hotels in the IHG pipeline worldwide, IHG expects to
recruit approximately 90,000 people over the next few years, including 30,000
in the Americas.

The
partnership started with a pilot program with the North Georgia Goodwill and
IHG branded hotels near the Atlanta airport; Goodwill will provided classroom-based
hospitality training followed by five participants taking up on-property work
placements at a Hotel Indigo. Gibson told CLN
the pilot resulted in two being hired on by the hotel and two others being hired
within the hotel industry. 

“They
were job-ready; we wanted to hire them, but we didn’t have open positions,” she
explained.

Brad
Turner-Little, Goodwill director of mission strategy, said there have already been
conversations between Goodwill member organizations and IHG property owners in
Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Toronto and Edmonton.

“IHG’s process
is really focused on on-site experience, so what we as Goodwill are able to do
is put some front end training,” said Turner-Little, adding the generalized
training followed by on-site training makes for a well-rounded experience.

“It’s such a
great fit in terms of the types of individuals that Goodwill is working with in
terms of helping with soft skills and job-readiness and the kinds of roles that
we’re creating in our hotels where we need to find great people,” said Gibson.

A
locally-executed program, “The idea is to create partnerships across multiple
cities and really scale it up,” she said.

Gibson said IHG
and Goodwill are mapping organizations for areas were there is already
hospitality training through Goodwill, fielding interest and proactively
seeding those connection.

“We know we’ve hit
on something that could be really exciting because we’ve already got the
toehold. We’ve got relationships in communities, probably across the continent.
Now it becomes a question of ‘How can we overlay a national strategy and really
accelerate that?’” said Turner-Little.

He noted that in
2012, Goodwill served 6.7 million people though virtual and face-to-face
services. He said Goodwill IHG Academy could literally help millions of people
get back into the workforce or break into it for the first time. He added the
hospitality sector is appealing because it is projected to be a larger job
creator and provides an opportunity for meaningful employment and potential
career advancement.

“We’re very
excited about the prospects of what we’ll be able to accomplish in
communities,” said Turner-Little.