Savannah Morning News, Thursday, November 17, 2016
By: Katie Nussbaum firstname.lastname@example.org
From valet attendants to chefs and general managers, Savannah’s tourism and hospitality industry is responsible for more than 26,000 jobs across the Hostess City.
On Thursday Michael Winckler, president and CEO of Goodwill of Southeast Georgia, announced a new hospitality training program that will help grow that number during the Tourism Leadership Council’s monthly luncheon at the Andaz Hotel, where he was the guest speaker.
“How we decide what programs we’re going to participate in in a community is really a mirror image of what the community’s industries are about,” Winckler said.
“One of the things that drew us into the hospitality industry and our hospitality training program is the fact that Savannah and really all of the Coastal Empire is so focused on tourism as a primary employer.”
The six-week program will train participants with materials certified by the American Hotel &Lodging Association and will be geared toward entry level positions like housekeeping, guest services and food and beverage related jobs.
At the end of the course, participants take an exam and become certified by the AHLA and participants can also chose an area to specialize in during the training.
Registration for the program will open in December and the first group of graduates should become certified in late February.
“We’re trying to emphasize with this program that you’re not just going into a housekeeping job, you’re building a career,” said Michael Whitfield, workforce development manager for Goodwill.
Goodwill has also formed an advisory council for the program in order to develop early relationships with participants, area hotels, industry groups like the Tourism Leadership Council .
Through the partnerships, senior director for workforce development Jennifer Tucker said the program will generate employees that are truly workforce ready with the soft skills needed to gain entry to the industry and climb the ladder as well as get feedback from hotels that will be valuable for the program.
“Placement is such an important part of that. As people graduate through our program to have a relationship with the hotels and the hospitality industry, so that job opportunities can be presented to them and we can make that connection,” Tucker said.
Tourism Leadership Council President Michael Owens said in an industry where people are more important than product, the partnership with Goodwill was absolutely essential for the local market moving forward.
“Tourism offers two things to the workforce, jobs and careers. It’s generally the decision of the worker on which he or she is going to take,” Owens said. “At the same time, we have the responsibility as an industry to give every tool we possibly can so that someone can take that job and turn it into a career.”
Owens said the program’s focus on those soft skills and emotional intelligence will be a huge boost to the local market, which often times has difficulty finding employees who are willing to show up on time or have proper conflict resolution skills.
“We’re hoping to work with Goodwill to create a program that will really, really bring back into the workplace and even before the enter the workplace, that soft skills and emotional intelligence,” he said.
“We’re here and ready to partner with them and do whatever it is we need to as an industry and tourism community to see that this program here in Savannah is successful.”
For more information on Goodwill’s hospitality training program, email email@example.com or call 912-354-6611.