Free training for careers in hospitality industry coming to Whitehaven

The hospitality industry has long suffered from high levels of employee turnover. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospitality has the highest labor turnover rate of any industry in the economy.

Growth in the Memphis hospitality industry combined with high employee turnover rates present a challenge for local employers seeking to fill positions. Southwest Tennessee Community College, Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County, and local hospitality partners have teamed up to meet the industry’s growing needs.

Beginning March 9, they will offer a free five-week hospitality training course designed to equip participants for careers in the leisure and hospitality industries.

“The hospitality industry is vital to the Memphis economy and this training can open up access to a wide variety of careers ranging from hotel and resort staff to tour management to food and beverage service and more,” said Charles Vance, director of marketing and communications for EDGE.

The hospitality industry currently accounts for over 10% of total jobs in the Memphis market.

This number has the potential to increase very soon. The Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association’s 2019 lodging industry update reports that 1,675 hotel rooms were under construction and 3,845 additional rooms were proposed as of February 2019.

More hotels mean more jobs and the need for a qualified workforce to fill these positions. The free hospitality training seeks to address this need.

“Partnering with Southwest to provide this kind of training is a win-win for everyone in our industry,” said Michelle Lewis-Flowers, vice president human resources with Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc. which is one of the local hospitality providers involved in the program.

“We are always looking for quality, motivated employees to join our team, and this course highlights the kind of skills that are critical to the success of our business,” she continued.

The training will be held at Southwest’s Whitehaven Center located at 1234 Finley Road in Memphis. Preference will be given to applicants who reside in the Whitehaven area.

To enroll, interested individuals should contact Dr. Glenda D. Collins at 901-333-4316 or [email protected]

Collins is director of workforce programs & partnerships for Southwest, said the program is designed to take a holistic approach, covering both essential skills and technical skills. Essential skills include soft skills such as customer service, which are vital to success in the industry.

Upon completion of the course, participants will receive both a Servsafe Food Handler certification and American Hotel and Lodging Institute’s Guest Service Professional certification.

The training is part of EDGE’s Ready Whitehaven initiative, which provides $300,000 over three years for the establishment of short-term training and education programs in Whitehaven.

“This is a great program that will provide a pipeline of quality, skilled professionals to meet the industry’s growing workforce needs,” said Vance of the hospitality course.

Participants will be trained on the process of obtaining a job, from search techniques and resume creation, to mock interviews and possible participation in a planned upcoming job fair. Beyond this, participants will also learn about the culture and workplace environment in the hospitality industry and what it takes to be successful in the long term.

For Collins, the long-term potential is a key benefit of this training. According to Collins, the potential for career advancement in the hospitality industry is high. Collins said an advanced degree is not always necessary for promotion in the hospitality industry.

“With a reputation for high customer service, promotions are possible. The ladder to climb to different opportunities is limitless,” said Collins.

Currently Southwest and EDGE plan to offer two sessions of the training this spring then continue the program with summer and fall sessions. Each session will consist of between 15 and 20 participants.
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