By Dale J. Venturini
The hospitality industry is a continuously growing segment of the U.S. economic picture. This year alone, the restaurant industry is expected to realize $783 billion in sales and employ 14.4 million in good-paying jobs, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 Restaurant Industry Forecast.
Among the key challenges restaurants and other segments of the industry are facing, in addition to legislative and regulatory hurdles, is retaining and recruiting employees. While the restaurant industry added approximately 2 million jobs since the nation’s economic recovery in 2010, which equates to roughly 900 new jobs per day, maintaining a quality workforce is still a challenge.
Over the past year, we have heard from many of our members who are facing difficulty in finding and keeping qualified employees. This brings up a much bigger challenge: the necessity of providing programming to adequately train our existing and next generation of the workforce. The RI Hospitality Education Foundation has trained thousands and thousands of students and adult learners over the years, helping to further their education, gain valuable new skills, or adjust to a changing career path.
Our training is funded in large part through state and federal grants. And, while the hospitality industry is one of the biggest revenue-generators for the state, we are often overlooked when it comes time to allocate training dollars in favor of other established industries. It seems that the general consensus is that the hospitality industry doesn’t create good-paying jobs.
However, restaurants added middle-class jobs at a rate four times higher than the overall economy. Between 2010 and 2014, the number of restaurant jobs with an income range between $45,000 – $74,999 rose nearly 38%. The number of jobs in this range in all other segments of the economy rose just 8% in the same period. This tells us that there is room for growth and advancement for employees equipped with the right tools.
Fortunately, we have recently formed partnerships that we believe have the ability to positively assist workers who want to reach that next rung on their career ladder. The RI Hospitality Association in partnership with the National Restaurant Association’s ManageFirst® program, Real Jobs Rhode Island, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the RI Hospitality Training Academy, recently launched a program to help workers within the hospitality industry gain the necessary tools and training to advance their careers with the industry.
The course, RI Food Management Training Program, will be open to anyone who is currently working within the industry in the state of Rhode Island, and who wants to learn the tools necessary to advance his/her career. During the 10-week course, which meets once a week for an eight-hour period, employees will have the opportunity to earn valuable industry certifications including: ManageFirst, which provides certification in hospitality and restaurant management, hospitality and human resources management and supervision, and controlling food service costs. Students will also earn the ServSafe® Essentials Food Safety Managers Certification.
In addition, students who successfully complete and pass all four courses including an elective and have 800 hours of industry work experience will also receive the Professional (MPF) Credential. Electives consist of a wealth of industry topics from accounting, to customer service, to nutrition, marketing and bar and beverage management – all necessary skills in furthering a career within the hospitality industry.
The RI Hospitality Association will be accepting a select number of applicants this fall, and the cost of the classes, which range from $745 – $995 depending on membership status, represents a drastic discount on similar courses being offered in nearby educational institutions. In addition, the RI Hospitality Education Foundation will offer scholarships up to $500.00 for the first six applicants. The program, valued at $4,500, is provided by funding from Real Jobs RI.
For anyone interested in learning more, please visit www.rihospitality.org.
Dale J. Venturini is the President and CEO of the RI Hospitality Association. A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.