Truly momentous YCI graduation ceremonies took place in Puerto Vallarta, Cancun and Mexico City to celebrate the achievements of 52 young people who successfully completed an intensive 24-week employability training delivered in partnership with 11 top hotels in Mexico. The proud graduates were accompanied by their families and friends, as well as their teachers and mentors from the participating hotels and other supporting organisations. The events marked an extraordinary day for everyone.
The Youth Career Initiative has a proven track record of fundamentally changing people’s lives. Through the hotel industry’s investment in high quality intensive training, participants are given the opportunity to develop their skills and confidence, which subsequently leads to legitimate employment or a return to further education.
In Puerto Vallarta, the graduation ceremony marked a particular success as the CasaMagna Marriott Resort & Spa announced that all six students who trained at the property had just been hired as full-time employees. This strongly speaks for the positive and immediate impact of the initiative.
In Cancun, Mr. Christopher Calabrese, Vice-President and General Manager of JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa and CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort, welcomed all guests and congratulated the graduates for their success:
“Our hotels are committed to providing young people with employment opportunities and prospects for their futures. We are very proud of the YCI graduates who were received as part of the Marriott family and who will always be welcomed with open arms.”
In Mexico City, graduate Martín Pacheco Lorenzo gave an emotional speech on behalf of his fellow classmates. He shared with the audience what YCI had meant to him and started his speech in Zapoteco (his indigenous language, vernacular to the region of Veracruz where he comes from), which he then translated into Spanish. Martín highlighted:
"I have learned not to take things for granted and to really appreciate people, and that by working hard I will be able to achieve a better quality of life."
YCI is an example of how different stakeholders, and even business competitors, can work in partnership to change the lives of at-risk young people.
In 2010, YCI and the US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons decided to pilot an adaptation of the YCI model that would enable the reintegration of rehabilitated survivors of human trafficking through the YCI training, developing their employability skills whilst building up their self-esteem and self-confidence. Three locations were selected to pilot this adaptation of the YCI model, and Mexico City was one of them. Nearly 45% of the young graduates in Mexico City came from local shelters looking after victims of trafficking. These young people are now equipped with the necessary skills to begin their formal careers, and are ready to embark on a journey to a new, better life.
YCI in Mexico was first launched in 2007 in association with Fundación Infantia and three piloting hotels: CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, JW Marriott Mexico City and Presidente InterContinental Mexico City. Currently, eight other hotels also operate the programme in Mexico: Marriott Reforma, NH Mexico City, Sheraton Maria Isabel, Westin Santa Fe, CasaMagna Marriott Cancun, Hyatt Regency Cancun, JW Marriott Cancun and Presidente InterContinental Cancun.
Image below: YCI graduates in Mexico City 2012