Columbia Basin College will launch a hospitality training program in January to better prepare workers to join the ranks of more than 6,000 people who work in the growing industry in Benton and Franklin counties.
The new program was created in direct response to the increased demand for skilled restaurant and hotel workers.
“There’s a real need for developing employees with documentable skills to provide to the hospitality industry,” said Janese Thatcher, dean for career and technical education at CBC. “They can show up for a job interview showing the employer they are prepared for this job, they know what it’s about, and they know the skills that are involved. It’s almost pre-qualifying the people for the employer.”
Classes for the hospitality short-term certificate program begin in winter quarter at the Pasco college. Students may take 13 to 19 credits to earn their certificate, completing courses with titles like, “Breakfast Attendant,” “Restaurant Server,” and “Maintenance Employee.”
Successful students will earn an industry certificate from the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute for each completed course, and those who complete all courses receive a hospitality short-term certificate from CBC.
All hospitality courses will be taught by Marilou Shea, the creator of downtown Pasco’s Food Truck Friday program, former director of the Pasco Specialty Kitchen, as well as the developer of CBC’s Food Truck Academy. Shea said many employers see a deficit in “soft skills,” like customer service, in today’s employee pool versus hard skills, like computer knowledge and safety training.
“Soft skills are really where the challenge lies in hospitality. The desire to work, the desire to engage on a customer service level that’s professional,” Shea said. “For millennials not to be attached to their smart devices, and actually engage with customers one-on-one.”