Cambridge Suites Halifax

Strong Partnership is Central to Ready-to-Work

Partnerships have been the key to the success of the Ready-to-Work program in Nova Scotia. Those contributing to make the Cambridge Suites’ experience so positive were the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC), Tourism HR Canada, Reachability, The WorkBridge Association and other Nova Scotia tourism employers.

The standard Ready-to-Work program offered by NSTHRC runs for five weeks, and in this time, students can also complete two national emerit certificates: Tourism Essentials and Canadian Workplace Essentials. In addition, they can add several provincial and program-specific certificates to their portfolios: Superhost Atlantic, Serve Right Responsible Beverage Service, Stress Management, Time Management, Basic Budgeting, Workplace Etiquette, First Aid/CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), Tourism WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System), Food Handlers, Professionalism, Basic Communication Skills and Job Readiness.

Two years ago, in its ongoing efforts to help program graduates and their employers succeed, NSTHRC obtained funding to allow it to include a third national emerit certificate at no cost to students or participating employers. To prepare students for the national certificate exam, an extra two weeks was added to the standard program. During these two weeks, students are introduced to a specific tourism occupation.

In the two years of running this now seven-week program (called One Journey), the most often chosen occupation has been housekeeping room attendant. This two-week occupation-specific training is a great addition to the transition-into-work program. It is especially helpful to job seekers who have never been employed in a Canadian workplace or who have been out of the workplace for a period of time. It is also helps employers like Cambridge Suites Hotel Halifax.

Cambridge Suites became a partner in the Ready-to-Work program because over 65% of its eligible staff had completed national emerit professional certificates through NSTHRC, and the hotel respects and trusts the work that this Council does. When NSTHRC started training candidates to challenge emerit professional certificate two years ago, that made partnership with the Council even more attractive to the hotel.

Cambridge Suites has hired five graduates from the Ready-to-Work program over the last three years. Although these new hires were still provided the usual corporate training that all new hires receive, Sharon Rutland, Human Resources Manager, believes that the understanding students receive about the nature of the occupation during One Journey helps them to learn faster on the job and increases their job satisfaction. When a new housekeeping room attendant is happy with the work and stays with the hotel, this saves training money otherwise lost to turnover—new housekeepers require at least one week of one-on-one coaching with a supervisor to prepare them to work on their own. The hotel also appreciates that the graduates’ fees for the professional certificate exam are covered by the One Journey program.

For their contribution to the partnership, Cambridge Suites Halifax has hosted several job fairs that include a tour of the property, and a meet-and-greet session with 18 other employers. The human resource directors in this group then arrange times for more detailed interviews with candidates who match positions within their housekeeping teams. The One Journey program instructor is available to provide feedback and answer questions about each candidate’s preferred learning style.

Cambridge Suites Halifax strives to have a diversified workforce—approximately 35% of the hotel’s staff members are new Canadians; 25% have known disabilities. NSTHRC supports the hotel by linking it to agencies that provide support for individuals in diverse labour markets. It connected Sharon with Reachability, an agency that specializes in integrating people with disabilities into workplaces. Reachability delivered training to hotel managers and other staff about how to work with and serve those with disabilities. The WorkBridge Association provided job coaches. The hotel’s partnership with NSTHRC, Reachability and The WorkBridge Association has helped to create a happy and productive diversified workforce.

For Sharon, the most meaningful aspect of hiring and employing Ready-to-Work and One Journey graduates has been working with the instructors. The partnership gives her someone with whom she can discuss the students’ strengths, and areas where they might need guidance. The information the instructors provide helps the hotel establish expectations and provide support. This results in greater success for the new hires and for the hotel.

Sharon recommends the Ready-to-Work and One Journey programs to other employers because “the support provided by the Council is huge.” The communication, training and help provided by the NSTHRC and its partners make the challenges easier to overcome. The partnerships create more commitment among employers and employees to make success happen.