Explorer gives disadvantaged youth an opportunity to earn while they learn, gain hospitality experience, achieve an internationally recognised certificate and be offered employment upon graduation.
Minor Hotels views youth development as fundamental to its business success and the group’s Explorer Programme, introduced in 2013, provides young talent with formal industry-based education, training and career opportunities, particularly for youth with limited access to education.
Unlike other apprenticeship programmes, candidates (aspiring Explorers) are high school leavers with very little or no prior work experience, aged between 18 and 25. The programme selection focuses on developing disadvantaged youth or women in the communities Minor Hotels operates in.
This sustainable programme is currently operational in five of the company’s resorts in the Maldives and in seven of the company’s hotels and resorts in Thailand, with an average intake of fifty students per year. Over the course of the next two years, the Explorers Programme will be implemented in Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
The Explorer Programme’s 12-month hospitality curriculum is executed through a blended learning approach based on a 70/20/10 model. Online learning, workplace training, on the job immersion and classroom sessions are all part of the curriculum. Further support is given to Explorers without access to computers - desktops, tablets or laptops are available for the full duration of the programme.
Minor Hotels was among the first hospitality companies to offer recognised certification aligned to vocational education frameworks. Explorers attain a Certificate in Hospitality endorsed by Hospitality Institute UK and they have the opportunity to further their education through other Minor Hotels development programmes. In Thailand, Minor Hotels collaborates with the Vocational Ministry, providing graduates with a Certificate in Hospitality and a Certificate III from the Vocational Ministry.
Minor Hotels also takes into consideration the extended community around the programme by investing in workplace trainers. The quality of the training is of paramount importance benefiting not only the Explorers but the whole hotel team. As such, the company, under the Australian Qualifications Framework, has re-trained and upgraded the qualifications of each of the Job Skill Coaches. By ensuring a high standard of training the company has seen an upsurge in staff morale, translating into heightened customer satisfaction.
The high standard of training which we adopt globally has driven our customer satisfaction goals. We have seen a consistent increase in our Average Leading Quality Assurance (LQA) score from 79.8 to 85 in 2018. Our guest satisfaction score has also increased from 89.7 to 90.4 in 2018.
Programmes such as Explorer also contribute to our team members’ morale. Our overall engagement score has consistently increased from 84 to 87 to 90 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. Similarly, our Learning and Development score has consistently been improving from 79 to 83 and 88 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
As the Explorer Programme includes on the job training, Explorers are quickly regarded as an integral part to the department in which they work, allowing them to gain on-the-job training which in turn means they adapt to operations and the company culture more rapidly.
In the Maldives, all team members including Explorers are accommodated on the island of each individual resort. Explorers quickly become part of the close-knit community, so much so that when they graduate and decide to pursue a job at another Minor Hotels property, leaving the island is bitter sweet.
In Thailand, the Explorer Programme’s graduation competition rate is 100%, with most graduates deciding to further their education before entering the workplace. Due to the success of the programme, Minor Hotels now offers formal 6 to 12-month apprenticeships to 118 students in partnership with Thai vocational schools under the Minor Excellence School Model.
Moreover, with the programme gaining momentum, we have started aligning our own internal job competency framework to the industry frameworks such as the ASEAN and Australian Frameworks. With our strong presence in Asia and Australia, this will give us a mobile workforce when the ASEAN Professional Mobility Framework comes to life.
Currently, Explorers in Maldives has a graduation rate of 90%. 62% of graduates have taken on a role at one of Minor Hotels’ properties and are still employed by the company. Remaining graduates have either gone back to school or have chosen to work for other hotel chains.
Caroline Stevens, Minor Hotels Chief People Officer says: "During the graduation and welcome ceremony, graduate Explorers sit alongside newly joined Explorers. There is a significant difference in their postures. Graduates walk tall, heads held high, whilst new Explorers’ have a more insecure and diffident demeanour. When I see the confidence of the graduates, I know we are making a difference in young lives and that our Explorer Programme is working.”