September 21, 2018

Making the World More Hospitable

Written by Daniella Foster, Senior Director, Global Corporate Responsibility, Hilton

This article originally appeared on PYXERA Global. Reposted with permission.

How the Hospitality Industry can be Instrumental in Closing the Youth Employment Gap

Group of female chefs posing for picture

Photo: Hilton

Young people will always find ways to employ their time. With more than 3.5 billion of them under the age of 30, it’s imperative that their employment is with purpose and value. Yet today, an astonishing 71 million young people around the world are left wanting for that.

The Travel and Tourism industry has that kind of work—it expects to generate 100 million new jobs in the next decade. Collectively, it is already one of the world’s largest employers; the industry is responsible for one in every ten jobs globally, in nearly every country of the world, including emerging markets.

Because of its size and scope—and the fact that a number of jobs in the industry are ideally suited for new job seekers—the industry is in a unique position to help solve the youth unemployment dilemma, and to better understand its challenges. For the second time, Hilton collaborated with the International Youth Foundation to launch the 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index. It ranks youth wellbeing in 29 countries across seven indicators: gender equality, economic opportunity, education, health, safety and security, citizen participation, and information communications technology. The countries included in the Index account for almost 70 percent of the 1.8 billion young people ages 15–29 living worldwide.

Representing slightly more than half of the world’s population, the group will play an immense role in shaping the world’s future. Consider these key insights from the most recent results. Youth wellbeing is improving, albeit slowly. By comparing data taken in 2014 to data collected in 2017, youth wellbeing improved by two percent, improving most in education and least in economic opportunity.

Regarding education, ten percent or more of youth are not enrolling in secondary school in four Sub-Saharan African countries, five countries in rising-income Asia, and three nations in the Middle East and North Africa. In some countries, there is less than 40 percent enrollment rates for youth at all education levels. Less than 50 percent of youth have access to the internet at home. In fact, youth in the least developed countries rely on their phones to get information due to their lack of adequate access to the internet through computers.

With respect to economic opportunity, 74 percent of youth surveyed feel that they will be able to get the kind of job they want, yet 65 percent feel that they will not be able to make as much money as they want. Only 11 percent of youth in the 29 countries assessed are experiencing high levels of wellbeing, while two out of every three youth believe that their government does not care about their wants and needs.

The findings of the Index shed light on the great opportunities for youth, yet they also highlight barriers to progress. It is critical that collectively, we find ways to empower young people with the resources they need and deserve in order to succeed in today’s society. To address these concerns, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 set out an ambitious agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity. Those goals can only be realized if we work together to invest in and empower the next generation.

In 2014, Hilton committed to open doors for at least one million young people by 2019 by connecting, preparing, or employing them. To date, the company has reached more than 800,000 young people by engaging, mentoring, and training them for a brighter future. These numbers reinforce Hilton’s firm belief in its obligation to and business interest in investing in today’s youth around the world.

In 2018, Hilton took the pledge one step further, to double the investment in youth opportunity programs in countries with the lowest youth wellbeing, according to the 2017 baseline, a major objective within the company’s 2030 global goals. For example, in countries like Egypt, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, the company is increasing soft skills trainings in communities and offering workforce readiness training through programs like Passport to Success and the Youth Career Initiative.

The youth employment gap, however, will not be overcome by a single company, a single industry, nor a single sector. As most of the challenging problems of our time, a cross-sector approach is required to address and solve such problems. The Global Youth Wellbeing Index provides clarity to inspire and sustain action—it not only raises attention to the major barriers youth face from one country to the next, it also serves as a great resource for business leaders and social entrepreneurs as well as government officials and civil society organizations. Within the Index, each domain includes a ‘Call to Action’ section with steps to take to appropriately and effectively engage youth.

Celebrate World Youth Skills Day July 15 by reviewing the insights and join like-minded leaders to create a brighter future across the globe for positive sustainable employment of young people.


This article is part of a series on “solvable problems” within the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Engagement Forum: Live takes place this October 10–11, 2018, bringing together leaders from across the private, public, and social sectors to co-create solutions and partnerships to address four urgent, yet solvable problems—
closing the skills gap in STEM, reducing post-harvest food loss, ending energy poverty, and eliminating marine debris and ocean plastics. Learn more about the Forum here.