By Elizabeth Johnson from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI). This blog is in response to the prompt, "What would you like the CTE community to know about your industry?"
For career and technical education students, hospitality presents a world of possibilities in a field that offers diversity, mobility, and the chance to use a broad range of skills, including accounting, marketing, problem solving, creativity, and people skills. Hospitality encompasses hotels, resorts, cruise ships, inns, and other places that provide accommodations for travelers. Jobs in the industry go far beyond the positions a traveler encounters face-to-face. In addition to front desk agents, housekeepers, and bell staff, a hotel needs people to sell and market the hotel, order and purchase supplies, hire and train employees, and manage finances, as well as managers who coordinate the activities of every employee and department to create memorable experiences for guests.
The hospitality industry in the United States has been identified as one of six priority sectors likely to drive domestic employment growth over the next 10 years. The industry directly employs nearly 8 million individuals and hotel projects in the sector could add between 2.1 million and 3.3 million jobs by 2021.
Hospitality is a field that rewards knowledge, skills, and initiative. Promotions can happen quickly, and more than 50 percent of all hotel general managers and c-suite executives began their careers in hourly, entry-level positions. The industry is filled with stories of dishwashers and bellhops who started at 17 and worked their way up to general manager by the time they were 30. The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing the U.S. lodging industry, recently launched its “Dreams Happen Here” campaign to showcase hospitality’s many career success stories.
Evelyn Richardson, assistant director of finance and accounting at the 1,500-room Gaylord Texan Resort, is one of those success stories. Just 25 years old, Richardson didn’t even know what hospitality was when her mother enrolled her in Washington, D.C’s Hospitality High School. The school combined math, science and English classes with hospitality-focused CTE classes that opened Richardson’s eyes to a whole new world.
Majoring in hospitality management at Tuskegee University in Alabama, Richardson added a second major in finance and became one of the first members of her family to earn a degree. After graduating in 2014, she was accepted into the Marriott Voyager Global Leadership Development Program, where she worked as a management trainee in the housekeeping, front office, and finance departments at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. When the assistant director of finance position at the Gaylord Texan opened up, Richardson was well prepared for the opportunity.
“I could never have imagined doing this when I was in high school,” said Richardson. “I’ve gotten to travel and work in exciting places and experience things I never dreamed of. The hospitality industry is amazing.”
The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) is the education and training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). For more information on AHLEI’s high school curriculum, the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program (HTMP), and other educational resources, visit www.ahlei.org, or call +1.407.999.8100.