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Supporting Emerging Talent


Flying High! Careers are taking off at Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5

In the current climate of skills shortages within the hospitality industry, it’s vital that employers create talent pools and pathways that can secure their future requirements. Nurturing emerging talent equals a positive impact on employee retention, productivity, customer satisfaction, not to mention savings on recruitment costs. However, what about the view from the other side of this equation? What about the benefits for your candidates? In the best circumstances, it can enrich their lives in ways you may never have even considered.

In October 2016, Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 won the Emerging Talent Initiative award at the 2016 People Awards. Their work developing the skills of young people, fresh to the world of work, has been truly inspirational.

In 2012, the Department of Health’s Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework found that only 7% of adults with learning disabilities were in some form of paid employment. It is estimated that 65% of people with learning disabilities would like a paid job.

In the hospitality industry there are of course many entry level positions that are subject to regular turnover, or are very hard to fill, and these jobs may well be suitable for young people with learning difficulties. The tasks and skills required can be easily broken down for training purposes and once learned, can be carried out with minimal supervision.

In conjunction with Project SEARCH, a US-based educational programme, Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 has been fully training young people with learning difficulties and employing them, not just within the five-star property, but with other local hospitality employers. Caroline Lowe, Director of Human Resources explains, “Hilton T5 were approached by another Hilton hotel in the US who had launched a Project Search scheme there, and wanted to link us up with the Project SEARCH partners to explore to opportunity for a UK project. Hilton T5 is the first hotel in the UK and Europe with this initiative.”

For the past three years, Hilton T5, has been enrolling 12 students per academic year. Aged between 18 and 25, and with a variety of learning disabilities including autism, Downs Syndrome and Asperger’s Syndrome, these young people have been attending classes in a specially converted classroom at Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5. They have a full time job tutor, Job Coach / Job Development Planner and Learning Support Assistant. The course is both academic and an internship and consists of three rotations through specific departments with continual feedback and support. The goal for each intern is full time, paid employment, and support is given at the end of the programme to help find that employment. Students also study for an OCN qualification in Hospitality and functional skills in Maths and English. The programme is supported by key partners, Ealing Mencap, Ealing Hammersmith & West London College and the London Borough of Ealing.

Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 has developed Job Development strategies and has contact with local employers including ISS Service who are responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of Heathrow Airport Terminals, plus Harrisons Catering and other Hilton hotels to share the benefits of employing young people with special needs. They are also developing and sustaining long term partnerships with these employers to have an ongoing pipeline of employment opportunities at the end of each internship year.

For employers, the benefits of this programme are many; access to a new and diverse talent stream with transferable skills that match employer’s needs with high performance and retention in some high-turnover or hard-to-fill posts. It creates employees who are highly committed, loyal and proven to be reliable. Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 5 has found that their employees with disabilities can serve as ‘role models’ for customers and this is well-reflected in satisfaction surveys.

As for the interns themselves, their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and last year alone there was a 100% completion of the course rate with five interns gaining paid employment before the end of the course.

On winning the Emerging Talent award, Caroline Lowe said, “We are proud and honoured to be recognised for this award. Project SEARCH is a successful partnership between key partners and Hilton T5. Our priority and focus is to create opportunities and a future in paid employment for young people with special needs, who previously have had few options within paid employment.”

Entering the 2017 People Awards is simple. It’s free and you can enter as many categories as you wish. Make sure your entries reach us by 3rd July 2017. The shortlist will be announced in August. The glamorous awards ceremony will take place on 5th October 2017 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.

Entries are still being accepted for this year’s People Awards which were created to showcase and celebrate the hard work of employers and recruiters in the field of hospitality recruitment, development and retention.

Don’t hesitate to contact our People Awards team with any questions at