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      Local Organizations Join Forces to Meet Need for Hospitality Employees

      Orlando, Florida, August 2012-With 34 hotels and 4,300 jobs in the pipeline by 2016, the need for qualified hospitality workers has never been greater. And no one organization can meet that training demand. That's why the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (EI) is working together with Orange County, the Jobs Partnership of Florida, the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, and hotel human resource directors around the city to put forth the most prepared group of entry-level workers possible. 

      In mid-August, 24 students graduated from the six-week "Career On-Ramp to Hospitality" program, presented by the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management and the Jobs Partnership of Florida using the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute's workforce curriculum. Some graduates of the program have already found jobs at the Hard Rock Hotel, Waldorf=Astoria, and Caribe Royale, while others are in the midst of the hiring process.  

      "This is what working together as a community is all about," said Shelly Weir, senior director of state relations & education program for the Educational Institute. "We're coming together to find solutions to meet the hospitality employment needs of our city." 

      "Career On-Ramp to Hospitality" students met at UCF five days a week for six weeks.  In addition to classroom instruction using EI's Skills, Tasks, And Results Training (START) program, the students took field trips, toured hotels, and practiced skills on-site at various properties. Students earned professional certification from the Educational Institute. They also received mentoring from members of the Rosen Alumni Association and support from human resource directors at Orlando-area hotels. Funding was provided by a workforce grant from Orange County. 

      "The program was a huge success," said Marc Stanakis, president of the Jobs Partnership of Florida. "In addition to preparing workers for the hospitality industry, we also changed their perspective of the field.  At graduation, the students told us that they now saw hospitality as a career path opportunity and not just a job."  He noted that the local hotel managers who met with the class all shared stories of their start in entry-level positions, which inspired the students and showed them what they could aspire to become.

      Stanakis hopes to repeat the class a couple of times each year. "Hospitality is the big job creator in Central Florida and our goal is to build a pipeline of skilled and motivated workers that will serve the industry and our visitors well so they keep coming back!" he said. 

      For information on EI's workforce training programs, contact Shelly Weir, senior director, state relations & educational programs, at 407-999-8166 or sweir@ahla.com.  

      About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute
      Established in 1953 as a nonprofit educational foundation of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, the Educational Institute’s mission is to continue being the preferred provider to the lodging industry, hospitality schools, and related hospitality industries by developing and providing quality resources to train, educate, and certify hospitality professionals worldwide.

      Elizabeth Johnson - ejohnson@ahla.com