Disadvantaged youth receive top honours from Hanoi’s 5-star hotels


 Managers of Hanoi’s biggest five-star hotels have paid tribute to 28 disadvantaged youth for completing a grueling 24 week training program.

The Youth Career Initiative (YCI), run in partnership with local vocational training charity REACH, equips disadvantaged youth with the skills to work in the hospitality industry by placing them at 5-star hotels in the capital.
This year’s students trained under the tutelage of senior staff and managers at Hanoi’s most prestigious international hotels, including the Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Hanoi Opera, Sheraton Hanoi, InterContinental Hanoi Westlake and the JW Marriott. 
At a graduation hosted at the InterContinental Westlake Hotel, students took to the stage to receive their training certificates and won praise from senior hotel representatives. 
"The YCI students haven't been trained before coming to us through the YCI program. We train them from the beginning," said Nguyen Nam Hai, a chef at the Intercontinental Hanoi Hotel. "They have good attitudes, they understand what skills they are lacking, and they try very hard to learn and take this opportunity that the program has given them."
It is the fifth time top hotel chains have participated in the YCI program, which began in Vietnam in 2011. The program has since delivered training to students from a variety of underprivileged backgrounds, including victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, extreme poverty, etc. 
Under the program, students undergo more than 750 hours of mentoring and on-the-job training provided as part of the hotels’ daily operations. Students work as hotel staff and are rotated through hotel functions, ranging from security and housekeeping to cooking and luggage services.
REACH executive director Pham Thi Thanh Tam said the program has helped youth from under-served groups gain a foothold in the global hospitality industry. “Our YCI program combines onsite training with specialised soft skills, computer and English language training delivered by REACH,” said Ms. Tam. “The effect of this strategic partnership has seen us deliver high-calibre graduates that are ready to work in any environment.” “The hotel staff have also played a vital role in shaping our graduates, helping them have pride in their work and feel like a productive member of the workplace,” Ms. Tam added.
Costs associated with participating in the program, such as uniforms, meals and transport are covered by the participating hotels.  The program has also proved valuable for rural Vietnamese youth who struggle to access similar skills training in the countryside. 
“I’ve changed so much over the past six months: from having no experience in cooking to being able to hold a knife, prepare food and communicate more confidently,” said Pham Van Cuong, a Thanh Hoa province native who has been training at the Hanoi Hilton Opera Hotel. “I also have a job now. This program has helped me develop, to take care of myself and better support my family,” said the 22-year old.
REACH anticipates more than 85% of the students will find suitable employment within six months of graduating from the program, thanks to its job placement program. Of the current graduating class, nine students have been offered permanent positions at YCI hotels, while a further seven students have found employment at other hotels. The remainder are undergoing interviews at hotels and restaurants around Hanoi.
                                               YCI graduates, hotel managers, and REACH trainers

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