Last updated: 04:29 PM ET, Thu July 09 2015

Hilton Launches Youth Entrepreneurship Program in China

Hotel & Resort | Ryan Rudnansky | July 09, 2015

Hilton Launches Youth Entrepreneurship Program in China

PHOTO: Hilton Worldwide introduces Startup365 in Guangzhou (Courtesy of Hilton Worldwide)

Hilton Worldwide has launched a youth entrepreneurship program to address youth unemployment in China as the company aims to open doors for one million young people by 2019.

The program, Startup365, is a two-day training boot camp delivered by T Foundation and the International Youth Foundation, with funding and program development support from Hilton. Its mission: to equip young Chinese people with the business skills and “entrepreneurial mindset” to conquer today’s workplace.

Through the program, participants learn firsthand what it takes to “conceptualize, start, and manage a business, as well as how to understand a market, differentiate a product and turn a profit,” according to a release.

"With over 74 million young people unemployed globally (according to the International Labor Foundation), and more than 20 percent of university graduates in China unable to find jobs (according to People’s Daily), young people today face an increasingly competitive and difficult work environment," said Bruce McKenzie, senior vice president, Operations, Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton Worldwide, via the release. "Many have responded to this challenge by starting their own businesses, an approach also encouraged by Prime Minister Li Keqiang. In addition to direct employment in our hotels across China, Startup365 provides young people with the entrepreneurial skills needed to become future employers to support economic development in Guangzhou and throughout the country."

During a two-month testing period of the program, 150 young people were selected via an open application process, most coming from underserved households in Guangzhou and from the Hilton Worldwide team in the Chinese city. Twenty-five mentors from Hilton’s local management teams supported the applicants during and after the boot camp, while students learned and practiced key business concepts at Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun, Hilton Guangzhou Tianhe and DoubleTree by Hilton Guangzhou. This included an interactive “Fish Market” simulation game in which participants had to collaborate and get creative with their available resources and personal networks. Participants also received a tour of the hotel, learning about the various operations and functions critical to running a successful business.

One of the participants, Wendy, said, "The Fish Market Exchange made me realize that if you move quickly, you can win. The most important thing for an entrepreneur is to be proactive and adaptable to the environment while remaining focused on your business dream."

Wendy ended up starting her own business after the training.

"Startup365 nurtures creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving in young people through hands-on learning and business simulation," said Lindsay Vignoles, director of corporate programs at the International Youth Foundation. "Hilton's participation in the program has enabled more young people to have greater opportunities in developing the necessary confidence to succeed in their professional and personal lives."

"China is a key market for Hilton Worldwide, and we are committed to investing in and positively impacting young people in the communities that we operate in," added Lawrence Lee, vice president, Human Resources, Greater China & Mongolia, Hilton Worldwide. "The hospitality industry offers enormous opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, and we are in a position to leverage our geographic scale and expertise, and innovative programs such as Startup365, to support youth development and entrepreneurial thinking in China."

This is not the first time Hilton has partnered with local organizations to create opportunities for young people.

In May 2015, Hilton Worldwide hotels in China took part in Careers@Hilton Live: Youth in Hospitality Month, the company's largest annual global career event, showcasing the many opportunities available in the hospitality industry.

And in June 2015, Hilton Worldwide was recognized as one of the Most Attractive Employers in China for the third consecutive year, following a survey of 55,000 students from 109 top universities across China conducted by Universum.

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