Hilton Worldwide recently launched its first youth entrepreneurship training program, Startup365, to address youth unemployment in China as part of the company’s commitment to open doors for one million young people by 2019. Entrepreneurs are critical to the long-term health of any global economy and Startup365 aims to equip young Chinese people with the business skills and entrepreneurial mind-set to succeed in today’s competitive workplace.
The innovative program was delivered by T Foundation (China) and the International Youth Foundation, with funding and program development support from Hilton Worldwide. Delivered as a two-day training boot camp,Startup365 enabled participants to experience firsthand what it takes to conceptualize, start, and manage a business, as well as how to understand a market, differentiate a product and turn a profit.
“With over 74 million young people unemployed globally, and more than 20 percent of university graduates inChina unable to find jobs, young people today face an increasingly competitive and difficult work environment,” said Bruce McKenzie, senior vice president, Operations, Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton Worldwide. “Many have responded to this challenge by starting their own businesses, an approach also encouraged by Prime Minister Li Keqiang. In addition to direct employment in our hotels across China, Startup365 provides young people with the entrepreneurial skills needed to become future employers to support economic development inGuangzhou and throughout the country.”
The two-month training brought together more than 150 young people who were selected through an open application process, and most participants came from under-served households in Guangzhou as well as Team Members from Hilton Worldwide hotels in Guangzhou. Twenty-five mentors selected from the hotels’ management teams supported the applicants during and after the boot camp.
The young people, mentors and facilitators engaged in highly experiential training to learn and practice key business concepts at Hilton hotels namely Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun, Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe, and DoubleTree by Hilton Guangzhou. This included an interactive “Fish Market” simulation game that spurred participants to collaborate, take initiative, and get creative with their resources and personal networks. Participants also had a tour of the heart of the hotel, learning about the various operations and functions that are critical to running a successful hotel.
One of the participants, Wendy, said, “The Fish Market Exchange made me realize that if you move quickly, you can win. The most important thing for an entrepreneur is to be proactive and adaptable to the environment while remaining focused on your business dream.” Wendy not only gained a better understanding of professional business skills, but was also inspired to start up her own business.
“Startup365 nurtures creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving in young people through hands-on learning and business simulation,” said Lindsay Vignoles, Director of Corporate Programs at the International Youth Foundation. “Hilton’s participation in the program has enabled more young people to have greater opportunities in developing the necessary confidence to succeed in their professional and personal lives.”
“China is a key market for Hilton Worldwide, and we are committed to investing in and positively impacting young people in the communities that we operate in,” said Lawrence Lee, vice president, Human Resources, Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton Worldwide. “The hospitality industry offers enormous opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, and we are in a position to leverage our geographic scale and expertise, and innovative programs such as Startup365, to support youth development and entrepreneurial thinking in China.”
Hilton Worldwide partners with various local and international organizations to implement initiatives focused on creating opportunities for young people in the hospitality industry. In May 2015, Hilton Worldwide hotels in Chinatook part in Careers@Hilton Live: Youth in Hospitality Month, the company’s largest annual global career event, showcasing the many opportunities available in the hospitality industry. In June 2015, Hilton Worldwide was recognized as one of the Most Attractive Employers in China for the third consecutive year, following a survey of 55,000 students from 109 top universities across China conducted by Universum.