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National Restaurant Association - Senate hearing supports workforce development

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Senate hearing supports workforce development



Above: The National Restaurant Association's Rob Gifford, left, with U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta at the July 19 pledge signing

About a week after several businesses and associations signed the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers ensuring collective training for hundreds of thousands of people seeking careers over the next five years, the momentum continued at a U.S. Senate Workforce Development hearing in Washington, D.C.

The July 26 hearing addressed the skills gap gripping the country and the Administration’s effort to team up with the private sector to boost workforce development nationally. The hearing followed the Administration’s July 19 pledge and executive order signing ceremony.

“We’re very excited about this initiative, and about the work we’re doing at the restaurant Association,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of its Educational Foundation, which pledged to assist nearly 400,000 current and future employees. “Our efforts begin at the high-school level because that’s where the skills gap really begins. With our ProStart program, we are on the ground in all 50 states, teaching the culinary and restaurant management skills they need to be successful. They can then continue on to college through our scholarship initiatives or go straight into the industry via an apprenticeship.”

The Association introduced its Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship program in 2016. Created in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the U.S. Department of Labor, it already has 1,100 employer commitments to register apprentices and estimates it will recruit at least 500 apprentices annually over the next five years.

The Association also is working on a variety of workforce initiatives, including pre-apprenticeship, certification, credentialed and continuing education programs.

“Not everyone is meant to go to college,” Gifford said. “There’s dignity to work, and we can remind ourselves that there are many pathways to the middle class, that there are people who dream of being executives one day who are on the pathway to those higher positions because of apprenticeships offered by the National Restaurant Association and others.”

Shannon Meade, the Association’s vice president of public policy and legal advocacy, added that offering apprenticeships, on-the-job training and education is a great way for the restaurant industry to fight a tightening labor market and the difficulties associated with filling certain positions.

“Restaurants act as a training ground for new employees and also present many opportunities for career advancement,” she said. “Our pledge to help this future workforce will benefit our businesses and communities.”

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