SPAIN: Salesian Partnership with Hilton Hotel Provides Training, Work Experience and Hope for Poor Youth
(MissionNewswire) Hard hit by the current economic troubles in Europe, Spain now has the greatest inequality of the 27 countries of the European Union. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live. One in five citizens are living below the poverty line and poor youth with too few employable skills struggle the most to find and retain stable employment.
Since its inception in 2001, the Salesian Pinardi Federation has been developing programs to help poor youth between the ages of 12 and 16 and is currently operating close to 40 projects aiding more than 2,000 youth. Projects focus on promoting the quality of children’s lives, helping youth retain employment and supporting migrants through family mediation. Other community projects work to raise awareness of volunteerism.
At the end of June, the Pinardi Federation’s third Hilton Hopes Project came to a close. The project, which has graduated 20 young people, provides training and real life work experience in the hotel management industry. Students attend four months of intensive collaborative training through the Pinardi Salesian Center and the Hotel Hilton-Madrid Airport.
Started three years ago, the Hilton Hopes Project is supported by the United States Embassy in Madrid and the Vatel International School of Hotel Management and Tourism. The goal is to harness the talents of young people living in poverty by providing them the opportunity to learn employable skills and gain self-confidence through their first employment experience.
“The aim of the hotel in recent months had been to ensure that the young people in the program rose to the challenge and improved their self-esteem,” says Íñigo Arruti, director of the Hilton. “The Hilton has also developed thanks to these young people and this program.”
The Salesian Pinardi Federation specializes in developing training programs that collaborate directly with the business sector so that students learn marketable skills and make an easier transition from coursework into employment. It encourages the business community to take an active role in program development as well as meeting with the students to help shape standards and the students’ academic and social development, ensuring greater opportunities for employment after graduation.
Two of the students that graduated from the Hilton Hopes Project in June have already received employment offers. One student will be selected by Vatel to study for three years at its School of Hotel Management. To date, more than 75 percent of the students attending coursework through the project have found stable employment.
“With so many young people out of work and facing conditions of poverty in Spain, it is important that Salesian workforce development programs respond to the market demand,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Students in these programs have a real opportunity to enter the workforce prepared both in terms of the skills they have learned and in their social development, ensuring a lifelong ability to retain livable wage employment and escape poverty.”
World Bank – Spain