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President, Marriott International in Canada

Across the globe, the future of employment is undergoing rapid changes. At the same time, consumers increasingly are showing they prefer to support and buy from brands that demonstrate social and environmental responsibility.

The 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study recently revealed that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of consumers around the world now buy on belief. These belief-driven buyers will choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on where it stands on social issues they care about.

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Most of the world’s largest corporations have brought corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the forefront of their core business strategies, yielding many benefits for the communities these corporations support. CSR also yields a variety of benefits ranging from reputation management and increased revenues to brand differentiation and attracting and retaining employees. Benefits aside, Marriott International, with our size and scale, also has a global responsibility and a unique opportunity to be a force for good.

Operating in 127 countries and territories around the world, Marriott International and our 30 hotel brands aim to improve the communities in which we exist. Marriott has a 35-plus year history of investing in programs around the world that help young people – especially from challenging backgrounds, underserved populations or developing countries – gain marketable skills that can lead to meaningful work and, ultimately, long-term opportunity.

Travel and tourism is an industry forecast globally to grow at a faster rate than other major industries. It’s expected to directly support 126 million jobs over the next 10 years. But in Canada, there is a talent gap between jobs that are available and qualified talent needed to fill those positions.

Historically, a lack of both jobs and training have been historical drivers of youth unemployment in this country. And today’s Canadian youth are unlike any generation before, with fewer young people in permanent jobs according to Statistics Canada, resulting in lower earnings.

To support youth employment and growth in Canada’s hospitality talent pool, Marriott International is collaborating with The Prince’s Trust Canada – which seeks to provide work experience to underserved youth who otherwise would have difficulty gaining employment. We partnered with The Prince’s Trust Canada to develop a hospitality-focused curriculum and externship program. It’s an impactful example of how to integrate purpose into core business processes and outreach.

This fall, four hotels in the Greater Toronto Area entered a pilot program with The Prince’s Trust Canada to help youth with training and employment. Fourteen underemployed youth, chosen through their affiliation with Toronto based women and youth centres, participated in two weeks of rigorous classroom training, followed by two weeks of fully paid hotel training. They learned about hotel operations while shadowing various positions in banquets, housekeeping and other departments. Many have and will be offered a job with Marriott after completing the four-week training, where they will be provided with the start of a career supported by continuing learning and education, and truly a world of opportunity.

We see this as a way to live our core value of serving our communities while innovating a new approach to hiring and ultimately filling a business and industry need. It is a win for Marriott on multiple fronts. Marriott International recognizes the importance of helping to prepare young people for careers and college programs in the hospitality industry, and this is an additional step toward building a solid foundation for the future of tourism and hospitality work in Canada. Because of the diversity of our operations and number of jobs available at our 230 Canadian hotels, our business is uniquely able to provide educational and work-study opportunities that will change young peoples’ lives and propel economic benefits.

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Our partnership with the Prince’s Trust Canada also supports Marriott’s broader sustainability and social impact platform, Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction. One of the Serve 360 priority areas is to empower through opportunity by partnering with leading non-profits to ensure workplace readiness and access to opportunity in the hospitality business, focusing on youth, diverse populations, women, people with disabilities, veterans and refugees. The Prince’s Trust Canada is a perfect fit.

In the years to come, companies that align their CSR objectives with business goals and community needs will be the most successful. They will forge a deeper connection with consumers, employees and other stakeholders while creating greater value for the company as well as the communities in which they operate.

Marriott wants to be at the forefront of providing an open door for Canadians to gain top-quality training, confidence and invaluable life skills, and we look forward to building upon the success of the pilot and expanding the program to communities across Canada. We hope, if nothing else, this leads as an example of the importance of innovative social responsibility that supports all stakeholders, and in this case, the future of Canadian tourism talent.

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