MARRIOTT LEARNING DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT RECORD DELIVERS SUCCESS RATE 11 X NATIONAL AVERAGE
Ron Vos, General Manager London Heathrow Marriott & Heathrow Windsor Marriott Hotel, outlines the impact that implementing DFN Project SEARCH’s innovative training programme has had on the culture and operations within the hotel.
He explains the effect the learning disability employment and education scheme could have on the hospitality industry if it was rolled out by more hotel groups as well further Marriott sites. Focusing specifically on Marriott, Ron details the roles that DFN Project SEARCH students and graduates carry out and the value they have added to the entire workplace.
The hospitality and hotel sector are all about lending a helping hand – but helping doesn’t need to be preserved for your customers.
At Marriott, we go out our way to cater for the needs and requirements of everyone that passes through our doors, going above and beyond on a daily basis to ensure every visit to our hotels exceed the expectations that our customers have come to expect.
Our standards are high, and we pride ourselves on them. As a result, our much-loved staff are front and centre of everything that we do. They are the cog that makes Marriott the worldwide brand that is known and loved throughout the globe.
Our employees come from a wealth of different backgrounds and it is that diversity that make us the workforce that we are.
Our sense of diversity has been aided in massive part to our ground-breaking partnership with learning disability employment charity, DFN Project SEARCH, at our London Heathrow Marriott site.
DFN Project SEARCH is an international training programme that boasts a proven track record of supporting young people with learning disabilities and helping them into paid employment – and one that I personally have been involved in and helped implement.
For four years, we have teamed-up with the charity to bring employment opportunities to those that otherwise may not have been provided with the opportunity.
Our programme enjoys a success rate of getting 66 per cent of people who undertake it into real- world jobs, which is a substantial increase on the national average of a mere six per cent. These figures are despite around 75 per cent wanting to work.
I have watched first-hand as DFN Project SEARCH provides real-life work experience, combined with training in employability and independent-living skills, to help young people with learning disabilities and autism to enjoy a productive adult life and attain high-quality employment.
The evidence-based programme is engineered for each participant to secure a job, gaining experience in a real working environment.
I would be doing it a disservice to simply say this partnership has been a success.
DFN Project SEARCH shows that with the right guidance and professional support from supported employment providers and colleges, people with learning disabilities have the potential to be a force for change. Through working with DFN Project Search, London Heathrow Marriott has been instrumental in providing enhanced employment opportunities for people with autism and learning difficulties.
The programme has been a huge boost and benefit for the entire organisation.
Year after year DFN Project SEARCH provides us with glowing examples that serve a reminder as to why we continue to drive this partnership forward. Each cohort that we welcome to the Marriott family are a delight to follow as we track their progress from their first day on the job learning new skills as Associates, to then blossoming from the shy personalities to confident young adults.
We have been blown away by the results. London Marriott Heathrow currently has three particularly inspiring young adults forging ahead with careers that they previously couldn’t have dreamed of before seizing DFN Project SEARCH with both hands.
Brian, Shay and Michael are remarkable young men who have grabbed this opportunity and have shown to us exactly why Marriott should play a major role in the programme, bringing it to the forefront of the minds of other businesses, groups and sectors. Brian works in our engineering department as a shift engineer, playing a vital role in the running of the hotel infrastructure on a day-to-day basis. On his own accord, Brian continues to push his own boundaries in a fashion that even his family didn’t believe was possible. A new-found confidence has seen him value his own personal development and he is currently expanding his remit into the hotel’s computer system.
Meanwhile, Shay has become a valued member of our housekeeping team – and when the programme finished up for half-term, he was a notable absence around the hotel.
Michael, who is a stalwart of our banqueting team, continues to make us so proud. Banqueting accounts for a huge part of our business and working in the department comes with a lot of responsibility which he has thrived in from day one.
What can’t be understated is the care and focus provided by all at DFN Project SEARCH. I’m naturally a very impatient person and when the idea was tabled about implementing the programme, I can openly admit I had my doubts.
I was concerned about the time and effort it would take from our staff, and how long it could take to implement DFN Project SEARCH to the level that we wanted it to be.
But my fears were immediately allayed following one meeting with the DFN Project SEARCH team. They detailed every single aspect of what the programme entails, while showing the support structure in place that put my mind at rest.
Everything they outlined has become a reality, and if anything, the programme continues to grow stronger and stronger with each passing year.
It is for that reason I have had no issue championing the scheme to other Marriott hotels.
The hospitality sector is fast growing and Marriott service over 1 million bedrooms, creating the perfect job opportunities for those with learning disabilities and a willingness to learn.
DFN Project SEARCH provides students that pathway – and the mutual benefits are limitless.
The lift in morale among staff is perhaps the most striking, as the students’ willingness to learn is uplifting, as is their undying enthusiasm for the tasks that they tackle.
Working in hospitality can be testing at times, but each and every day the students approach the job with the same levels of excitement and encouragement, which rubs off on us all.
And by working together we have realised the limitless potential in our collective partnership.
H&C News hopes you saw the opportunity for your business by reading this article, we would like to thank Ron Vos and the team at Marriott for enlightening us. We found the video below equally enlightening, and again encourage all readers to watch in full, the end justifies a few minutes of your valuable time.