Skill development for growth

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IHG Academy partners with education providers in 60 countries across the world to give training in hospitality to local talent. In India, IHG is collaborating with 29 institutions and has provided practical training to 1700 students in its hotels in the last three years

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Shantha De Silva

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has a strong focus on skills development and and has partnered with educational institutions across India. There are 29 IHG Academies in the country. “We work with those institutions to give skills training to the students. They have the advantage of doing the practicals at our hotels. The last three years have seen nearly 1700 of those students going through our hotels learning the skills. That’s how we approach training where we work with the institutions and then give students  practical opportunities,” says Shantha De Silva, head of South West Asia, IHG.

The Kalimpong centre is one the largest talent development centres under the programme, and attracts young talent from the rural areas of Northeast India. It is in partnership with IL&FS. “We have developed IHG specific hospitality programme with IL&FS, and help them deliver the same to the students. We also work with an institution called Vedatya in Delhi and do industry specific revenue management programme. We have developed the curriculum together with them. They deliver the curriculum, then students come to our hotels and get practical training,” mentions De Silva, pointing out that it helps them get new talent for IHG properties.

At entry level is a programme called the iHost, under which fresh graduates coming to IHG  hotels get trained over the period of a year and become supervisors. “The next batch we will have 60 of those people joining us. One step higher is the I-Grad programme, these are for graduates and they go through an 18 month programme where they are exposed to  all angles of hotel operations and they graduate as assistant managers. The next batch we are taking 30 of those people,” informs De Silva, adding that at every level of the organisation there are specific training programmes that give necessary skills and knowledge and the practical training that helps them to prepare for career in the industry.

“When people say we do not have talent in India I never believe that because we have 1.2 billion people, it is about skilling them, giving them the right opportunity and giving them the reason to  grow,” says De Silva.

On the fast track

There is an accelerated GM development programme for today’s young and impatient generation who want a fast track career path. “They do not want to wait for 40 years to become a GM. We have an accelerated GM development programme for the mid scale Holiday Inn Express brand. We take a supervisory level colleague in a hotel and make him/ her GM in two years.  Most of them are in their 20s. We piloted this programme in our company in India a couple of years ago,” says De Silva, adding that the duty manager of a hotel was sent to Singapore for an indepth brand hotel training at Holiday Inn Express in Singapore. He came back, worked a few months and became the GM of Holiday Inn Express in Chennai. Currently, another duty manager is in Singapore for this programme. “After six months of return she will get some training and become a GM. They are selected on the basis of their keen interest to go through this programme, and be the right talent. Today youngsters are very ambitious and want to accelerate their growth. It is a great opportunity for people like them, specially with our mid scale segment growing so fast we need the talent trained and ready to take on those growth opportunities,” says De Silva.

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IHG currently has 31 hotels in South West Asia and four brands – Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and  InterContinental. “We have grown very rapidly, the portfolio has doubled over the last three years  and we also have a healthy pipeline of 36 hotels in India, which will open in the next couple of years. Our aspiration is to get to 100-150 hotels in the next 10 to 15 years,” remarks De Silva. The skills/ talent development initiatives are in line with the expansion plans of the hospitality major.

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