Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project

IHG Academy: Opening doors in hospitality for Jordan Valley youth

30 Nov 2016
Ahmad Bleilat

“I heard through one of the Princess Basma Bint Talal associations that the academy was offering the chance for training in the hospitality field. I went with a few friends and enrolled; they contacted us a few weeks later and called us in. That was the beginning of our journey.” Ahmad Bleilat, a 19-year-old from the Jordan Valley, details the events leading up to the unique opportunity he had to join the InterContinental Hotel Group Hospitality (IHG) Training Academy, which has changed the course of his life. “The academy began with teaching us basic English and divided us into different departments. I chose housekeeping,” explained Ahmad. The IHG Academy was set up earlier this year through a partnership between the InterContinental Hotels Group Dead Sea Hotels and the USAID Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project (BEST). The academy directly addresses unemployment issues in the Jordan Valley by offering Jordanian youth professional training so they can begin careers in the hospitality industry, while also tackling the dearth of skilled hospitality workers that hotels in Jordan are faced with. Mr. Bleilat is among the fifty first students to train at this academy in Jordan. The IHG Academy has also partnered with the Amman Chamber of Commerce, Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development, Ghor Al-Mazra’a Club, and Ta’asheera for Humanitarian Development to offer training in food and beverage services, food production, and housekeeping. The academy is based within two IHG Dead Sea hotels; with USAID BEST support, the Crowne Plaza Jordan Dead Sea Resort and Spa and the Holiday Inn Resort Dead Sea have been equipped with customized training materials and state-of-the-art learning laboratories to teach the practical skills required for working in hospitality in Jordan. Entering his eighth month at the academy, Mr. Bleilat declares to being “truly happy and satisfied” with the opportunity that has changed the course of his life. After a moment of contemplating his future, Ahmad admitted that, “Being in the academy has offered me the chance to learn and progress, maybe even become a supervisor one day.” He is enjoying the chance to learn new skills and believes the academy has offered the best nurturing environment to work on current skills and learn new ones. Ahmad has also made many friends within the academy and reports that they are all pleased with the progress they have made there. “I highly recommend the academy to people of the same age as me as it is highly beneficial to the local community of Al Ghour and other Jordanian cities like Zarqa and Madaba,” Said Ahmad. After completing the 12-month training program, the graduates will be employed by the IHG Dead Sea hotels, meaning that both the trainees and the hotels will benefit. The hotels receive skilled local workers and the trainees will receive employment and the opportunity to be on track to receive a nationally recognized certificate through entering Level 1 of the Pathways to Professionalism scheme at their designated hotel. The IHG Academy is the first academy of its kind in Jordan, and has the potential to be adopted by other hotels to reach a greater number of young Jordanians and help address the wider need for hospitality workers in Jordan.