Editor’s note: The following guest post is authored by Marie Downey, executive director of Boston Employment, Skills and Training. Learn more about how #ApprenticeshipWorks for everyone during National Apprenticeship Week 2016 at dol.gov/apprenticeship.
The hospitality industry in Boston is growing dramatically. More than 30 new hotels are under development. Gaming is arriving in Massachusetts. Hundreds of current hotel workers are approaching retirement age. Employers are searching for more high-skill workers who see hotel and hospitality opportunities as a wise career choice, not just a temporary job. Responding to these trends, an innovative workforce intermediary – Boston Employment, Skills and Training, or BEST – is unveiling a new job seeker training center in Dudley Square in Roxbury, an area of Boston where residents are desperate for quality jobs. The new BEST Hospitality Training Center opened its doors during National Apprenticeship Week.
Learn more about the BEST training center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVneTnVYBk0
This expansion is a direct result of industry growth and a Local 26 labor-management partnership that provides well paid jobs with comprehensive benefits. One of BEST’s priorities is the Mel King Empowerment Program, which focuses on the recruitment and training of African-Americans in the hospitality industry. That population is currently underrepresented in many of Boston’s luxury hotels. In 2016, BEST launched its first pre-apprenticeship program in housekeeping, with all 17 graduates getting job offers at partner hotels. The pre-apprenticeship program provides a nationally recognized certification, ongoing career development, and college credit for training and on-the-job experience.
In 2017, BEST will expand this program with the goal of training 80 participants. BEST is a partner of the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute’s $1.3 million Multiple Industry Intermediary contract from the Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA expansion initiative. The initiative is part of the department’s $20.4 million investment in 14 national industry intermediaries and national equity partners to expand apprenticeship opportunities across the U.S.
BEST has an impressive history of working with more than 30 employer partners. The concept of apprenticeship is new to some hospitality employers, but essential. Today’s housekeepers are expected to have far more skills than in the past. Once proficient in housekeeping, there’s a rich lattice of career opportunities within the hotel at which they are employed. With starting wages at $17.38 and excellent benefits, apprenticeship in hospitality makes sense.