OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2009
Hyatt Success Story

Cooking Up Success with Hyatt

In Florida, Hyatt Hotels Corporation has been commended for their proactive approach to training, hiring and promoting people with disabilities. Through a partnership with Florida VR and Hands on Education, Inc., the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay developed a two week company based culinary arts training program in June of 1998. The program includes 100 hours of “hands on” instruction over a two week period. The classes are limited to four students so that each person receives individualized training and support. Students are temporary employees of Hyatt and are paid for all hours during the training. 

Hyatt’s hands on training program has expanded in Florida to Orlando, Miami, and Sarasota and recently established new programs in three Hyatt hotels in the Washington, D.C. area with the D.C. Rehabilitation Services Administration. Hyatt is not only helping to train persons with disabilities, but the company hires graduates of the program and provides references to those individuals who seek employment opportunities in other culinary settings. Hyatt also hires people with disabilities in other areas of the hotel such as customer service, PBX (private branch exchange phone system), laundry and shipping/receiving. The company has served as a catalyst for hiring in other service and tourist related businesses.

There are many Hyatt success stories where individuals have been hired and have promoted within the company. One trainee, and now employee, is paraplegic and works as a chef from a stand-up wheelchair. One of trainees is a PBX operator who happens to be blind and there are several employees who are deaf now employed as cooks in various culinary settings. A young graduate from the D.C. program recently accepted a position as a cook with a cruise line; he wanted to travel and is now doing so with a salary of $17.00 per hour and full room and board. 

These are just a few of the many positive outcomes that transpire when VR partners with great companies like Hyatt and community agencies such as Hands on Education. Although the training is only two weeks in duration, the experience and Hyatt's reputation prepares and qualifies graduates for careers in a variety of settings. More importantly, Hyatt chefs and human resource professionals are active partners in employment—acting as trainers and references on the behalf of students. It is a positive learning experience for students and Hyatt staff.

In 2007, the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation honored John Ficca of Hands On Education Services, Inc., with an award for his partnership with the VR agencies in developing and growing this important business based training program with Hyatt. Visit Hands On Education Services, Inc., for more information about this unique program and partnership with Hyatt. 

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The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Last Modified: 10/09/2009