Sommet Education, a leading worldwide player in hospitality education boasting a community of 10,000 students and 60,000 influential alumni worldwide, has launched its Foundation, a significant milestone aimed at supporting employment challenges within the hospitality sector.

The Foundation will concentrate on tackling the sector’s employment challenges by focusing on two levers of action: offering scholarships for hospitality education to talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and advocating for careers and professions in hospitality.

Empowering individuals from underserved communities to pursue rewarding careers in hospitality

The launch comes at a pivotal moment for the industry, with the travel and tourism sector projected to provide employment for 449 million people worldwide by 2034, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). By then, 12.2% of the global workforce will be powering this vibrant sector. Despite these promising figures, many destinations and hospitality employers continue to face recruitment challenges.

Drawing on Sommet Education’s long-standing commitment to developing hospitality talent, the Sommet Education Foundation will leverage its global network of hospitality schools (Glion Institute of Higher Education, Les Roches, École Ducasse, Invictus, and Indian School of Hospitality) to train and open doors to careers in this industry for individuals from diverse and socially disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Sommet Education Foundation will identify talents supported by a network of social partners, including UN agencies, governmental entities and NGOs. Talents will be selected in alignment with the framework of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 4, focusing on inclusive education. Funding and support will be provided to educate and empower, particularly youth from impoverished backgrounds and women, while also creating lifelong learning opportunities and ensuring talents are gainfully employed within the sector.

Sommet Education Foundation patronage

“Joining the hospitality industry is more than a job guarantee; it is a promise of a rewarding and fulfilling career nurtured by human encounters, passion, cultural exchanges, and experiences,” said Anouck Weiss, Executive Vice-President at Sommet Education Foundation. “By offering scholarships leading to employment opportunities, we aim at offering life-changing opportunities to a new generation of talents and empowering them with the necessary skills to join the thriving hospitality industry.”

The Foundation can already count on Accor as a Founding Patron. The hospitality group has already committed to promoting talent development, fostering social equality, and bolstering economic growth through a first dedicated initiative in India. Steven Daines, Chief Talent & Culture Officer at Accor, said: “As a leading hospitality group, investing in people’s talent is a key priority. Hospitality is a sector that transcends territories and borders. This implies open-mindedness and connection to others. I am proud to be in a sector that promotes cross-border work experiences and multicultural environments”.

Echoing his views, Anne-Sophie Beraud, SVP Diversity & Inclusion & Social Care at Accor, added: “The success of our employees must not be determined by diplomas, origins or nationalities. We want to guarantee each of our talents the opportunity to reach their full potential by preventing inequalities and discrimination.”

Promoting hospitality professions: survey shows strong sector attractiveness and employer voluntarism to attract and retain new talents

To inform the Foundation's roadmap and strategic direction, the Sommet Education Foundation engaged OpinionWay, a pioneering market research institute, to conduct a comprehensive European survey to identify the key factors that attract and retain talents in the hospitality industry. 1,300 young professionals and hospitality HR managers across Europe were interviewed, along with 20 key industry leaders (below) encompassing the broader spectrum of the sector, including hotels, restaurants, travel, tourism, independent, medium-sized and large hotel groups, and high-end retail.

Alain Ducasse, Chef and Founder, École Ducasse

Carole Pourchet, Director General, Majorian

Christelle Grisoni, CEO, Bertrand Hospitality

Christian Catiello, Manager Director Organization, Alpitour World

Christopher Jones, Director General, Brioche Dorée

Cyril Baron, General Manager, Caviar House & Prunier

Eric Frechon, Chef, Meilleur Ouvrier de France

Isabelle de Bardies, Director General – CEO Division, Angelina

Jade Frommer, Co-Founder and CEO, Ephemera

Katrin Melle, Regional Vice President DEI & Talent EAME, Hyatt

Laurent Kleitman, Group Chief Executive Officer, Mandarin Oriental

Maribel Rodriguez, Senior Vice-President, WTTC

Marion Amacker, Associate Director, Morgan Philipps Executive Search

Natalia Bayona, Executive Director, UN Tourism

Nathalie Seiler Hayez, Managing Director, Swiss Deluxe Hotels

Philippe Héry, Managing Director, Hippopotamus

Pierre-Olivier Aguinalin, Chief HR Officer, Hublot (until February 2024)

Sabine Masseglia, Managing Director, St Barts Tourism

Steven Daines, Chief Talent & Culture Officer, Accor

Tigrane Seydoux, Co-Founder, Big Mamma

The research found that the service sector holds considerable appeal for 85% of young professionals across Europe. Three-quarters of young European professionals would be ready to join high-end hotels, restaurants and retail shops, praising the career opportunities, especially internationally, and the people-to-people connections. The survey confirms the overall challenge of the sector throughout Europe, with 59% of HR managers facing employment challenges. 78% state that Generation Z (18 to 28 years old) brings specific challenges around identification, recruitment and loyalty.

Hospitality’s unique promise fuels optimism in the sector

Professionals within the sector are resolutely convinced of the depth and appeal of their respective fields, the survey found, with an overwhelming 86% expressing confidence in the sector’s allure. Moreover, they exhibit unwavering faith in their ability to sustain employee commitment, rating it at an impressive 7.5 out of 10.

This sector offers pathways for individuals to advance socially and professionally, regardless of their educational background. It stands out as one of the few industries where individuals can achieve rapid success and take on greater responsibilities over time, effectively climbing the social ladder. This unique promise of upward mobility makes it particularly appealing to many. Furthermore, employers place a premium on motivation, soft skills and service-oriented personalities, prioritising these qualities over formal diplomas and are ready to invest in their talents. The overwhelming majority – 93% of HR managers – emphasise the centrality of training in fostering talent excellence, development and long-term loyalty.

On this subject, Laurent Kleitman, Group Chief Executive at Mandarin Oriental, shared: "Architects design the buildings of tomorrow. I would like people coming out of hospitality schools to be able to design the experience of tomorrow.”

Stuart Gentle