The hotel industry is growing both nationally and in California, and with it, the need for qualified employees at all levels. This need provides an opportunity to invest in the next generation’s workforce through proactive partnerships with organizations dedicated to job training and placement, along with solid commitments on the part of employers.

That’s why the hotel industry is proud to support the Bay Area Young Men of Color Employment Partnership (BAYEP) Career Pathway Summit. Taking place at the Oakland Marriott City Center this week, this unique event will help match over 1,000 job-seekers with more than 20 top employers who will be hiring on the spot, as well as providing on-site career resources and interactive workshops to assist young people looking for a job. The Career Pathway Summit is sponsored by the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the industry’s Foundation (AHLEF), California Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Hotel Council of San Francisco – because we recognize that building pathways for America’s young men of color is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the essence of our industry.

Believing in the upward mobility and potential of all our workers is at the heart of hotel employers. Nearly half of our industry’s general managers started their careers in entry-level positions, such as dishwashers, bellmen, or front-desk agents. And now, after adding jobs at a rate nine percent faster than the rest of the economy, the hospitality industry is expected to create another 2.1 million to 3.3 million jobs over the next three years. This robust growth can broaden the career horizons of countless young, seasonal employees for whom a position in hospitality can offer meaningful job experience with a competitive income and grow into something much more, a long-term career.

Our industry’s success – like the success of so many other employers – depends on supporting its workforce. In a business of people taking care of people, hotels could not be successful without the eight million men and women who lend their talents and hard work to jobs tied to travel and tourism. Ensuring that hotels can recruit and cultivate young people for today’s workforce and the future generation of leaders fuels our industry’s proud tradition of supporting the career aspirations of workers at every level.

So, we are committed to working with BAYEP and other community-based organizations to turn that tradition into an answer to the social and economic challenges facing young men of color throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s well established that, in California, unemployment among young Black men (37%) and young Latino men (25%) significantly outpaces joblessness among other groups. But even in the Bay Area, one of the most ethnically diverse regions of the United States, the troubling reality is that one of every nine young men of color is unemployed.

That is why hotels are so firmly committed to the BAYEP Career Pathway Summit, a free hiring event open to the entire San Francisco Bay Area community. By building bridges between young men of color and employment opportunities, we hope to close the employment gap. But those bridges must be supported by long-term resources. So, in addition to facilitating new hiring, the event will launch a 12- to 18-month commitment to the long-term success of all the participating employers and their new hires. This commitment includes providing managerial training and a customized retention strategy for career summit hires, as well as ongoing professional development to help new hires advance with employer partners.

Together, we can cultivate and support new career pathways for the Bay Area’s young men of color. It is the right thing to do for those struggling to find employment, and a vital bridge we must build for the hotel industry to continue growing and providing hospitality and job opportunities in the future.