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National Restaurant Association - ProStart is first course on pro-business menu

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ProStart is first course on pro-business menu

At the National Restaurant Association, we’re passionate about helping our industry’s next generation achieve their goals and dreams. We aim to support them in myriad ways, and believe lessons learned in our ProStart Program and National ProStart Invitational are integral to their development as professional chefs and executives.

Here, Dawn Sweeney, our president and CEO, explains the importance of teaching our future workforce the fundamental skills they need to succeed in their careers and lives, and instilling in them the strong work ethic and sense of personal responsibility that opens doors to bright futures:

What it means: When I attended the recent National ProStart Invitational in Providence, R.I., the excitement I saw in the faces of America’s future restaurant leaders was overwhelming. Nearly 400 student competitors put their skills to the test, cooking three-course meals for and presenting business pitches to industry leaders, with hopes of earning more than $200,000 in scholarships.

Why it’s important: Restaurants employ approximately 15 million people from all walks of life in every local community. We want to expand that opportunity and help teach more people – like the 500,000 ProStart students who’ve participated in the program -- the fundamental skills and values needed to be successful.

Read Dawn Sweeney’s full Op-Ed

Why we do it: We want everyone to know restaurants are open for business and committed to helping millions of people achieve a brighter future. Similar to other sectors of the economy, our industry needs additional qualified workers. Restaurateurs across the country are searching for workers with the necessary skills to perform, succeed and grow in new positions.

Seeking a solution: I speak with restaurant operators daily about their struggles with this issue. These workforce shortages are especially troubling for our industry because we believe people are our greatest asset and remain central to shaping the dining experience of our guests. We are taking proactive steps to address our industry’s concerns through ProStart, which encourages experiential learning and career exploration. It offers a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on learning so that every graduate has a set of practical and useful skills that make them highly competitive job applicants.

The reality of apprenticeships: In addition to ProStart, we’re expanding the apprenticeship program we started last year to increase recruitment and retention of qualified employees. I’m also honored to serve on the White House Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, composed of 20 national leaders appointed by the President, to recommend strategies that grow apprenticeship programs in America.

The ProStart and Apprenticeship programs will help alleviate our industry’s workforce shortage and provide a pathway to meaningful and rewarding careers. Restaurants must be able to recruit talented, skilled individuals. That’s why we will continue to focus on developing new programs that attract, empower and advance a skilled and passionate workforce across America for generations to come.

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