Pilot apprenticeship programme with Sheraton Hilton Hotel Dushanbe

Hospitality apprenticeships for refugees and local youths boost self-reliance and career opportunities.

Pilot apprenticeship programme with Sheraton Hilton Hotel Dushanbe

Hospitality apprenticeships for refugees and local youths boost self-reliance and career opportunities.
Pilot apprenticeship programme with Sheraton Hotel Dushanbe

Afghan refugee Nargis Alinazar Timuri, 27, serves a guest at the front desk of the Sheraton Hotel in Tajikistan’s capital city, Dushanbe.

The project in brief

Project Implementer

Sheraton Dushanbe (Marriot International Inc.) since rebranded as Hilton Dushanbe.




September 2017 - January 2018


The Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe developed a training programme for refugees and local youths with the objective of enhancing refugee self-reliance and boosting their competitiveness in both local and global labour markets.

Through the National Development Strategy 2016-2030, Tajikistan will increase its development in hospitality and tourism paving the way for a growth in employment opportunities in these sectors. The apprenticeship programme brought together different actors that cooperated in expanding livelihoods and self-reliance interventions for refugees through partnerships and coordination with the state, the public and, more recently, the private sector. 

The targeted Partnership between Sheraton Hotel Dushanbe, UNHCR, Adult Education Centre and RCVC is the first step of launching the pilot project that we believe will benefit local Tajik and refugee youths who are passionate about the tourism sector. - Mr. Toni Toshev, the General Manager of Sheraton Hotel, Dushanbe.


Project aims

  • Facilitating livelihood opportunities for refugees and local youths by creating a constructive and welcoming learning environment.
  • Increase refugee and local youth employability through skills training and work experience.
  • Refugee and host community integration; 50/50 approach.

Resources used

  • A jointly written and signed Letter of Understanding formalizing partners' roles, terms of reference and eligibility criteria for apprentice selection process. (More details in downloadable report)
  • An employment brochure on refugees’ right to work in Tajikistan, jointly developed by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Migration and shared by UNHCR.
  • An interview process to help select the apprentices.


  • Tajikistan Government 
  • UNHCR Tajikistan
  • Line Ministries of Labor, Migration and Employment (through the Adult Education Centre)
  • NGO Refugees Children and Vulnerable Citizens (RCVC)
  • Public
  • Sheraton Dushanbe, Marriot International Inc.

Challenges and how they were overcome

  • Constructive feedback - To overcome challenges, a way of submitting “constructive feedback” between the apprentices and the hotel management was put in place.
  • UNHCR arranged focus groups with apprentices. 
  • An anonymous post-training questionnaire for apprentices to complete.
  • UNHCR and RCVC conducted a series of information sessions for the Sheraton human resources department on the legislative framework for refugees and their qualifications and backgrounds.

Results of the Good Practice

[I thought] this could open doors for me in the future... Someday I can help girls like me to get ahead, especially in education. Being able to learn new skills is so important, especially for refugee girls and women. - Sheraton apprentice.


All apprentices, especially women, reported an increase in self-confidence. All participants confirmed that they benefitted from the 50/50 approach - equal participation of refugees and local youth - and agreed that the opportunity allowed them to create a support system for each other through friendship. The apprentices also built new social networks with colleagues in the Sheraton Hotel.

After completing the course, successful apprentices received a State recognised certificate which increases their chances of being employed in the hospitality and tourism sector. Already there are success stories: three participants were immediately employed. Two graduates were hired as assistants to the Chef, and another, a local woman graduate, has been recruited by Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dushanbe as a front office assistant.

The Good Practice has been expanded by other actors.

I have new experiences every day, all of which are helping me pursue a career in hospitality. - Sheraton apprentice


group of young people sitting at a table looking at the camera