Home News & Features Hotel Industry Partners with Pearson to Offer Debt-Free College Degrees to Employees

Hotel Industry Partners with Pearson to Offer Debt-Free College Degrees to Employees


WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Hotel & Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF), the foundation arm of American Hotel and Lodging Assn., announced a pilot program to offer streamlined degree programs to hotel industry employees in partnership with Pearson’s AcceleratED Pathways program. Through this groundbreaking initiative, 10 hotel companies will engage employees across 1,500 hotel properties, allowing them to pursue higher education pathways at no cost to the employee.

The announcement underscores the hospitality industry’s commitment to enriching its workforce and ensuring a strong and prosperous future for the industry. This program, the first of its kind within the hospitality sector, builds upon a legacy of opening opportunities for industry employees, such as the apprenticeship program and Empowering Youth Initiative, and shows AHLA and AHLEF’s continued commitment to providing employees with the pathways, training and resources they need to achieve their career goals.

“The hospitality business is about taking care of people—both our guests and our workforce, said Katherine Lugar, President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Assn. (AHLA). “We could not do what we do without a strong, talented workforce. Our industry exemplifies the American Dream, fostering development, upward mobility, and exciting lifelong careers. Today’s announcement builds on a legacy of resources and training the hotel industry provides to our employees, and we are excited to give working adults in the hotel industry a more affordable and flexible education and helping employers to attract and retain talent in the process. This is a win-win.”

Offers Diverse & Personalized Educational Paths

Hotels are unique for offering jobs and career paths that do not require a college degree but do require skills, with many global C-Suite executives and nearly half of all general managers starting their careers in entry-level positions as dishwashers, bellmen, or front desk agents. This new program, however, offers more diverse and personalized educational paths that enable skill development, including a high school GED, a cost-free Associate degree, or a low-cost Bachelor’s degree. By eliminating the high upfront costs of pursuing higher education, employees are now able to take advantage of tuition assistance programs—at no extra cost to the employer.

Employees who pursue and complete post-secondary education pathways by taking advantage of employer tuition assistance benefits tend to earn more money over the span of their careers, are more qualified for promotion, are effective at driving customer satisfaction, and stay at companies longer. AHLA and Pearson’s new partnership enables greater participation in existing tuition assistance benefit programs, and offers employees personalized guidance, resources and additional support services to help students reach their goals on their educational journeys.

Participating companies run the gamut from large global brands to management companies and independent properties, and include Hersha Hospitality Management, New Castle Hotels & Resorts, The Osthoff Resort, OTO Development, The Nines Hotel, Pivot Hotels & Resorts and Davidson Hotel and Resorts, Pyramid Hotel Group, Red Roof Inns, TradeWinds Island Resorts, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts.

Helps Companies Manage Tuition & Education Benefit Programs

“Pearson’s AcceleratED Pathways program helps companies manage tuition and education benefit programs to better the lives of employees and improve talent recruitment and retention,” said Kevin Capitani, President of Pearson North America. “AHLA’s leadership and that of its member companies is a game changer for thousands of busy working adults in the hotel industry who can now take control of their education while they juggle jobs and family obligations.”

AcceleratED Pathways is a growing component of Pearson’s business, helping companies manage tuition and education benefit programs to better the lives of employees while providing companies with measurable benefits. Studies of similar programs in other industries have shown advantages for employers, as well as employees—from lower turnover rates and decreased training costs to higher employee loyalty and increased levels of customer satisfaction. Companies in the pilot are also setting an example of corporate social responsibility and improving the lives of, while also strategically investing in, their workforce.

Pearson will help match an employee with an online degree program at an accredited community college or university to complete an Associate or Bachelor’s degree. In many cases, employees can use existing college credits to jumpstart their education, and apprentices currently enrolled in AHLA’s apprenticeship program can also earn college credit. This allows many of the busy working adults in the hotel industry to stay in control of their education while they juggle jobs and family obligations. Students also receive support services that significantly reduce the administrative burden, making it more likely that they will complete their degree.

Employees are expected to begin participating in this program as early as March 2018.

To read more about Pearson’s AcceleratED Pathways, click here.