Growing up, my dad talked fondly about learning his craft working as an apprentice under the great master tailors in Rome, Italy. They taught him the art of cloth and the craft of hand stitching suits and dresses, coats and gowns worthy of royalty. He credits the apprenticeship with his success, honing his skills and setting him on a path to owning a business.
This week we celebrate apprentices everywhere, especially those in the hospitality industry. Despite the pandemic, the AHLA Foundation’s apprenticeship program has seen a 94% retention rate among apprentices in over 500 properties across 42 states.
Kelbie is one of our apprentices. He began his career washing dishes at a local hotel in Florida, before moving on to work and manage the front desk. Now, he is hotel manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Jacksonville, a property managed by Remington Hotels, and he credits his career acceleration to our program.
But he deserves all the credit. It wasn’t easy. He worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week and even lived on the property for 90 days to provide support after the pandemic caused occupancies to drop to historic lows, forced staff furloughs and prompted the suspension of stayover service.
“It was the most challenging thing I have ever done,” he told us, but it also provided him exposure to every department in the hotel. “I’ve learned how to run a hotel by myself and the apprenticeship program has done a fantastic job teaching me how to do that.”
In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, we are taking time to recognize our 1,000 apprentices, just like Kelbie, who are passionate about hospitality and committed to helping the industry rebuild after the pandemic. Thanks to critical funding from the Department of Labor, the AHLA Foundation’s apprenticeship program helps us strengthen retention and more importantly, give our employees a path to management roles and a clear future in the industry.
By Rosanna Maietta,
AHLA Foundation President