By Bridget Brown, ICF

When you think of hotels, do you think about good jobs with advancement potential?  If not, you may want to take another look.

According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Dreams Happen Here campaign, hotels provide 8 million jobs and $74 billion in wages and salaries in 2015. About 70 percent of the mayors surveyed in the 2017 U.S. Conference of Mayors Tourism, Hotel and Lodging Survey, said hotel jobs provide the most opportunity, good benefits, and wages within the tourism industry.

But hotel industry employers have the power the help their communities, too. By collaborating with workforce development and local Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), for instance, employers could better connect low-income or low-skilled participants to jobs. Those jobs could, in turn, help participants access career pathways with advancement opportunities.

After meeting with stakeholders from these agencies and industries, though, our team learned that few understand how the hospitality industry can partner with workforce and social services agencies. Some hotel professionals had outdated perceptions of “welfare” and were not aware of services and resources available to help individuals successfully transition into employment. Conversely, many workforce and social service agencies and nonprofits working with hard to serve participants do not have information about career paths and career ladders in the hospitality industry.

So, how can there be better connections between the hospitality industry and public workforce and social service agencies?

  • Ensuring that there is a single point of contact so that hospitality personnel know exactly whom they should call when they have an opening to fill.
  • Holding a “meet and greet,” during which the industry leaders and agency leaders and employment specialists and case workers come together to discuss who they serve, what job and career paths entail and offer, and what the opportunities are.
  • Having regular face-to-face meetings at hotels to educate hiring managers about workforce and social service agency and nonprofit clients ready to work.
  • Sharing information through formal or informal presentations to hotel employers on tax breaks and other perks around work-related expenses of which employers may not be aware.

A key need here is ensuring collaboration and partnerships. These initiatives require time and effort; clear expectations; a common understanding of what each partner brings to the effort; and the ability to highlight the benefits for all stakeholders.

The hospitality industry has many career options available to participants. On top of that, the industry is open to collaborating with human service partners to help individuals attain employment and access the support that they need to become – and remain – successfully employed.

Bridget Brown is a Senior Workforce Development Specialist at ICF where she works with clients to create an employer-focused, demand-driven workforce system that benefits the employer, the job seeker and the community.