A new pilot-program will have hotels pay for employees to get an associate degree.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association recently announced a two-year pilot program that would pay for employees to get an associate degree. Employees would then have the option to earn their bachelor’s degree at a lower cost. So far, 10 hotels have agreed to participate.
The hospitality sector has experienced a labor shortage in recent years, the group’s CEO Katherine Lugar told Hotel Business. She hopes this program will attract new talent to the hotel industry, adding that this is “an incredibly important effort to build on our long commitment to empowering our workforce.”
Although the companies will cover the cost of the degrees, the American Hotel and Lodging Association is working with the education company Pearson to simplify this process. Pearson will work with the schools to negotiate lower pricing and ensure the degree programs are accredited.
Participating companies will pay an average of $1,000 and $5,250 a year per employee, Jim Homer, executive vice president at Pearson, told The Wall Street Journal. Around 500 employees are expected to participate in the pilot program.
When an employee is selected for the pilot program, Pearson will match them to an accredited online degree program. All students will receive support services to increase the likelihood that they graduate.
The benefits and requirements of the program will vary based on the company. For instance, Wyndham employees will be eligible after a year of employment. The company will pay for the fees, tuition, and books necessary to complete an associate degree.
Wyndham previously offered its employees a tuition reimbursement program but will now provide the money upfront.
Gerry Chase, the president at New Castle Hotels and Resorts, told CNN they expect six employees to qualify for the pilot program. Chase said that the company would select employees who show initiative and could possibly step into a management role someday. However, Chase added that staying with the company is not a requirement for the employees to qualify.
Many companies are beginning to recognize the benefits of offering tuition assistance to employees. Studies have shown that companies that invest in the education of their employees attract better talent and have lower turnover rates.
That’s why top companies like Starbucks, Bank of America, and Fidelity already offer their employees tuition assistance. Wells Fargo offers tuition reimbursement and even provides scholarships to its employees’ children.
Industry leaders hope that if the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s program is successful, more hotels will sign on after the two-year pilot program is up.