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Corporate Responsibility Report

Local economic opportunity through the IHG Academy programme

Ilustration of graduates walking into a job

Key IHG Academy achievements in 2013

  • Expanded our IHG Academy to 301 programmes – an increase of 144 during the 2013 year, across 50 countries
  • Helped over 6,000 participants build hospitality skills and improve their employment prospects in 2013 alone

Key IHG Academy target 2013 – 2017

  • Provide skills and improved employability to 20,000 people via IHG Academy.

Key IHG Academy objectives 2014

  • Continue to expand the IHG Academy throughout our estate making sure the programmes deliver positive, good quality and transformational results for participants, IHG and our hotels.

Fast facts

  • The hotel sector is one of the largest creators of employment opportunities, second only to the food and beverage industry
  • An average IHG hotel employs 75 people and creates 4.25 other jobs in the community for every job we create.

(Source: Economic Impacts Study conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of IHG)

Our size and global market presence mean that we have a significant impact on the economies of the communities where we operate. We believe these to be as important as our environmental impacts and one of the key roles of hotels in society is helping local people build their skills and enhance their chances of finding employment.

IHG's economic impact

In 2010 we commissioned Oxford Economics to look into the economic impacts of the hospitality industry and IHG in particular. Read our economic impact section to find out more.

Throughout the world IHG hotels provide opportunities for economic development, new business, much-needed jobs and technology transfer. Travel and tourism as an industry is particularly important to the economies of developing countries, employing more than 260 million people worldwide and generating more than 9% of global GDP. (Source: World Travel & Tourism Council Economic Impact 2013).

The IHG Academy is a collaboration between individual IHG hotels or corporate offices and education providers and/or community organisations.  It gives local people the opportunity to develop skills and improve their employment prospects in one of the world’s largest hotel companies.  It also ensures we have a pool of skilled, motivated and engaged people to work in our hotels, who will provide a consistently great experience for our guests.

Within a global framework, each IHG Academy is unique. This ensures that the training meets the needs of local communities as well as hotels around the world. All IHG Academy programmes have three things in common. They:

  • operate together with local community organisations and/or education providers
  • include a work experience placement, giving participants skills and real experience of working in a hotel
  • include performance feedback and a recruitment discussion, giving participants an opportunity to experience the job interview process, and improving their chances of finding a job in the hotel sector and in many cases, secure a job in one of our hotels.

Participants of an IHG Academy come from all walks of life, ranging from university graduates through to disadvantaged young people. This reflects the range of careers and opportunities for progression available at IHG.

We currently have over 300 IHG Academy programmes in 50 countries around the world.  It’s our ability to build skills and raise aspirations across hundreds of communities that inspires our vision is to have as many IHG hotels as possible participating in an IHG Academy.

In 2013 we firmed up this vision by setting a target to provide skills and improved employability to 20,000 people from 2013-2017 - double the number of people who participated in the programme up until 2012.  We will achieve this by getting more of our hotels to run IHG Academy programmes, at the same time improving quality of use and increasing participant numbers.

We have also started measuring the percentage of participants hired by IHG in order to track how many people get into work as a result of taking part in the programme.  We are currently taking steps to measure conversion rates.  This is a complex process as there is a huge variation in the type of IHG Academy programmes being run around the world.  Ultimately we want to increase the percentage of participants hired and set up a process for tracking conversions.  We will continue to report on our progress.

The IHG Academy programme in China: a case study

In many cases the lack of a skilled workforce prevents developing nations from tapping into the economic benefits that travel and tourism have to offer. For instance, we are the largest international hotel operator in China but have found it difficult to attract and retain talented employees in the region. That's why we launched the IHG Academy programme, a public/private partnership that provides hospitality job training in our local communities. First launched in Shanghai in June 2006, we now have 30 programmes throughout China. We have established new partnerships in all the regions where we operate and continue to roll out the IHG Academy programme worldwide.

Read more

100% success rate for IHG Academy in Chengdu

IHG Academy participants

Our IHG Academy programme in Chengdu is a shining example of how the programme improves local employment prospects and provides us with the talent we need for our hotels. Set up in 2008, the first batch of participants graduated in 2011 and all 67 of them are now employed by InterContinental Chengdu.

Chengdu is in Western China, an area of rapid growth in the hospitality industry, with the potential to grow even further. This gives our business a tremendous opportunity, at the same time presenting us with a challenge – to make sure the local community benefits from the economic opportunities such prospects open up and to find the talent we need to provide consistently great guest experiences in our hotels. Through the IHG Academy programme we are meeting those challenges and fulfilling our commitment to develop talent in the region – for our hotels and the hospitality industry as a whole.

Working in partnership with Chengdu Vocational and Technical College, one of China's national modelling schools, we developed a three-year diploma. While each programme is individually designed, they all share certain common elements. For instance, the IHG Academy programme in Chengdu includes guest lecturers from IHG, on-the-job training in the hotel, internships and invitations for students to take part in hotel staff activities, such as Careers Week and the Job Skill Competition. Additionally, the school established an IHG branded class, which gives students a strong sense of belonging.

As with other programmes, students are invited to apply for jobs with IHG once they've graduated. Asked about the reasons for its success, General Manager David Lim explained that it was important to get buy-in from the top – both at the college and across all departments in the hotel. The aim is to make sure school directors experience the IHG culture first-hand, and that all IHG team members understand the commitment we need to make under the IHG Academy programme.

After that, it's down to the students. As Mr Lim explained to a group of students recently, 'There are plenty of opportunities in our company, but being successful ultimately rests in your hands. You need to be passionate about what you're doing and enjoy it every day. You need to set yourself goals and be committed to learning from the outset.'

Clearly his advice, and the programme, is paying off. On top of achieving a 100% employment rate for the first batch of graduates, the programme's success led to the InterContinental Chengdu being honoured as a member of Chengdu Vocational Education Group of Tourism, with the hotel's General Manager being selected as Vice Chairman of the group's Board of Directors.


IHG unveils 150th IHG Academy – a case study

Group photo of IHG Academy participants

The launch of the 150th IHG Academy marks a milestone in the development of the IHG Academy and takes us full circle to where it all started, China.

Read more

Photo of five men clapping, standing in front of an IHG academy 150th sign

Our 150th IHG Academy is a collaboration between Pu’er University of South West China’s Yunnan Province and Crowne Plaza Xishuangbanna. It was set up to provide local hospitality and tourism students with skills development and employment opportunities to support IHG’s rapid growth in China. The three-year training programme includes classroom-based teaching and a one year on-site internship placement for at least 30 students.

Huge demands are being placed on China’s fast growing hospitality industry. China is predicted to become the number one inbound destination by 2015. Our plans to double our presence in China with the opening of 150 hotels means we expect to employ a further 30,000 over the next few years.  

Our new IHG Academy in Yunnan will help to create a pool of skilled and motivated potential employees. Over and above that, it reflects our global vision to nurture local talent, raise job skills and create economic opportunity around our hotels.

Wu Lanlan, an IHG Academy participant from China says: ‘I have gained a deeper understanding of the hospitality industry from the programme and it’s inspired my passion for this industry’. Another participant, He Tingqiao adds, ‘The IHG Academy provided me with a chance to learn what working in a hotel is really like, and I have learned a lot from the programme’.

The launch was celebrated at an event in Beijing, which was attended by Richard Solomons, representatives from Pu’er University, and Government and tourism stakeholders.


IHG to provide lasting employment legacy in East London – a case study

Nick Clegg attends Holiday Inn launch meeting

In February 2012 we launched a new IHG Academy programme in Newham, one of six London boroughs hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Read more

Nick Clegg attends Holiday Inn launch meeting in Newham

Reflecting our aim of creating local economic opportunities, the programme will provide a lasting legacy of employment in an area with high levels of unemployment. Our Holiday Inn brand is the official hotel provider to London 2012, and we are building two new hotels close to the Olympic Park in time for the Games. Successful IHG Academy programme participants will be prize candidates for some of the 140 new jobs being created in the area as our hotels open.

Group picture of staff and Nick Clegg attending Holiday Inn launch

The launch was announced at the Holiday Inn London Stratford City and attended by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He welcomed the programme, saying: 'IHG are leading the way in their sector through a tailored academy programme. It's an added investment that means young people can learn the skills for the industry in a local college, and then start their career in a local hotel. This shows real investment in our future workforce, is a huge boost for jobs across the country, but crucially will see local people benefit from training and work.'

Nick Clegg and IHG members pointing at building

The programme will provide certified training and practical work experience in hospitality and the hotel industry to 50 participants a year. To develop the six month training course we worked in partnership with Newham College, which has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating. The borough is one of the most culturally diverse communities in the country, and over 100 different languages are spoken there. With visitors from all over the world staying in our hotels, we are always keen to employ people with language skills.

As soon as they're qualified, participants will be able to apply for entry-level jobs at IHG. In 2012 we're creating 140 jobs for local people in our new East London hotels – Holiday Inn London Stratford and Staybridge Suites Stratford City – alone. We also have two other hotels in the area – Crowne Plaza Docklands and Holiday Inn Express London Stratford.

Nick Clegg discussing IHG Academy programme at the Holiday Inn launch in Newham

The IHG Academy programme in Newham is part of our global initiative to provide talented people with the skills they need to work in the hotel industry, and potentially build a career with IHG.

Nick Clegg discussing IHG Academy programme at the Holiday Inn launch in Newham with staff


Goodwill Industries – a case study

IHG Academy certificate

In 2013, IHG and Goodwill Industries International announced the establishment of the Goodwill IHG Academy programme in the U.S. and Canada that will offer skills development and employment opportunities to those seeking a career in the hospitality industry. Goodwill IHG Academy participants will have access to job services, resources and real-world work experience in IHG hotels that will help increase opportunities for employment.

Read more

The IHG Academy programme is tailored to meet local job needs around the world through IHG-branded hotels working hand-in-hand with educational and community organisations to fill jobs in hospitality. Goodwill provides job training programmes that meet the needs of local employers in high-growth industries, like hospitality, through job services and other community-based programmes such as counseling, financial education and résumé preparation. Through the Goodwill IHG Academy programme, both organisations are working together to create more sustainable communities.

"We are enthusiastic about working with Goodwill Industries to expand the IHG Academy programme in North America and further support economic growth," said Kirk Kinsell, president, the Americas, IHG. "Being a responsible business is a part of IHG's DNA. We take a long-term view of our business and focus on how we can positively impact our local communities now and in the future."

Individuals participating in the Goodwill IHG Academy will receive a skills development experience that includes work placement in IHG-branded hotels, performance feedback, and recruitment discussions that will give them opportunities to gain experience with the job interview process. The work placement opportunity will add important mentoring and networking connections for those who utilise Goodwill’s jobs services.

Kinsell added, "As a leading hotel company, IHG has been a contributor to the travel industry's job creation engine fueling the U.S. economy since the recession. And, we have a need to recruit even more skilled, motivated and talented employees into our workforce, so that we can continue to meet the needs of our guests."

"Goodwill builds strong communities through job creation," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Our partnership and collaboration with IHG will enable us to create more sustainable communities by establishing job training and placement opportunities in the field of hospitality."

Goodwill’s employment training and job placement services benefitted more than six million people in 2012. Job services and other community-based programmes are funded and supported through the sales of donated clothes and household items at Goodwill stores and online, as well as through community relationships, like the Goodwill IHG Academy.

"Goodwill has done tremendous work though its community-based programmes that help people achieve economic independence," said Kate Gibson, vice president, Corporate Responsibility – Sustainable Communities, IHG. "Together, we will work to close the skills gap, fill available jobs within IHG-branded hotels and provide a pipeline of talent for the hospitality industry."


IHG Academy logo

IHG Academy: Global

IHG Academy Global video

IHG Academy: Global

Over 6,000

Participants have received skills to improve their employment prospects in the hotel sector through our 300+ IHG Academy programmes around the world since in 2013.

IHG Academy: Newham

IHG Academy Newham video

IHG Academy launches in Newham, East London

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