Hotel Trade Groups Seek Solutions To Labor-Shortage Problem

LOS ANGELES -- At the Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), U.S. and Canadian hotel trade groups announced programs to address a hospitality labor shortage.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is striving to target the approximately 6 million unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds no longer in school. The Empowering Youth project was launched in October in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

AH&LA, which is committing $500,000 in grants to community organizations, is working with the nonprofit Grads of Life to recruit, train and find jobs for as many as 1,000 young adults within the next two years.

"These are not dead-end jobs," said AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar. "These are jobs that overwhelmingly lead to upward migration."

Meanwhile, the Hotel Association of Canada is working with the Canadian government on a pilot program that will recruit and train immigrants to fill lower-level hotel job openings.

"We now have tens of thousands of Syrian refugees," said Hotel Association of Canada president Susie Grynol. "We've been working with the government to build a pioneer program to get those immigrant workers into hotel jobs."

The announcements were topical at ALIS, as attendees were sanguine about demand trends but concerned about the rising cost of labor. Such concerns have been more recently magnified because the pending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could result in deportations. Undocumented immigrants account for much of the hotel labor force and the construction workers who build new hotels.

"It's a shrunken labor pool," said American Life president Greg Steinhauer, whose company developed and owns the Courtyard-Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. Live. "It's probably the biggest issue, aside from brand saturation."




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