New Program Prepares Veterans for Hospitality Jobs

Handshake between professionals in white shirts.

University of Phoenix, Hilton Worldwide and Goodwill Industries International are teaming up with one goal: Cultivate the jobs skills of veterans and their spouses to help Hilton hire 10,000 Veterans by 2018

While the unemployment rate for all veterans is currently at 5.5%, 11.2% of veterans who returned to civilian life since 9/11 are still unemployed. Both unemployment and, crucially, underemployment remain high among veterans, especially as the economy has begun to heal in the wake of the recent recession. A survey this fall conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix showed that the majority of past service members aren't being used to their full potential when they do land a job. A majority (61%) who have held civilian jobs say they have previously been or currently are doing work beneath their skill sets; nearly three-quarters (72%) say they accepted a position because they were unemployed and needed a job.

To help solve this issue, Hilton Worldwide, Goodwill Industries International and the Apollo Education Group (the parent company of University of Phoenix) have joined forces to provide the educational and workplace foundation to prepare them for careers in the hospitality industry. Hilton will move to the front of the line veterans and military spouses seeking interviews for a paid position in the hospitality industry.

Through the Hilton Military Internship Program, participants can earn a certificate in Hospitality Management from University of Phoenix School of Business and experience a separate six-month, paid internship at a Hilton Worldwide property in a select U.S. city. Once the students successfully complete the Hospitality Management program and Hilton internship, they are guaranteed an opportunity to interview with Hilton for full-time positions.

Hilton has also committed to hire 10,000 veterans by 2018 through Operation: Opportunity. Apollo will play an important role in Hilton's effort, providing accessible instruction and online coursework to military students. Students' curriculum is informed by experts from throughout the hospitality industry; instructors are experienced practitioner faculty who work in the fields that they teach.

"Employers are eager to fill their vacancies with top talent," said Rosye Cloud, a senior advisor for Veteran Employment for the Veterans Benefits Administration's Office of Economic Opportunity, in the press release announcing the program. "Veterans and their spouses are an ideal talent pipeline. Our military community has a strong record of meeting the complex demands of today."

"There are many parallels between military and hospitality careers, which is why employers in this sector are particularly open to hiring and growing military talent," said  Ruth Veloria, Executive Dean of the University of Phoenix School of Business. "Quality, excellence and first-time delivery are critical in both sectors. In the military and in hospitality, you often do not get a second chance to complete a mission and have to put your best foot forward out of the gate.

"There are also parallels when it comes to management. Leaders in hospitality often oversee large teams with multiple departments and many disciplines in a 24-hour environment.  The Hilton Military Internship program joins valuable military experience with education and on-site employer training to help veterans transition into supervisory roles in the dynamic hospitality industry."

Those who enroll in the Hospitality Management Certificate program with University of Phoenix will be eligible for tuition reductions and will be taught by practitioner faculty with extensive hospitality experience. Some of these instructors also work for Hilton Worldwide, bringing the on-the-job experience into the classroom. Throughout the program, Goodwill® will provide support for veterans and their spouses through its community of programs, including career counseling, resume preparation, mock interviews, financial education and translating military skills to civilian life.

"This program demonstrates the ability of industry, higher education and nonprofit services to come together and address real employment needs," said Veloria. "Connecting veterans who bring unique and valuable skills to the civilian workplace with leadership opportunities in this dynamic sector provides tremendous value for the organization and its employees."

Hilton Worldwide will take the lead in providing opportunities for these well-trained prospects to move into career paths in a dynamic industry that craves the type of leadership skills embedded in these veterans.

"It is critical for employers to recognize the unique skill sets of military employees and spouses by providing them with continued development and growth opportunities," said Rodney Moses, Vice President of Global Recruiting, Hilton Worldwide. "We look forward to welcoming more veterans and their spouses to our hotels and corporate offices."

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