High school is often a time when students first start seriously exploring career options. Beyond purely academic pursuits, many schools offer classes that specialize in art, business and a range of technical careers. Two programs garnering statewide attention are the ProStart culinary and Hospitality Tourism Management programs developed in partnership with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association to help students explore careers that cater to their lives. Hands-On Experience.
These nationwide, 2-year programs are approved by the Michigan Department of Education to give students hands-on experience from professionals in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Upon completion, they receive an industry-recognized certificate demonstrating their credentials and access to scholarships to help them further pursue the profession.
There are currently 70 high schools and career centers across the state using the ProStart curriculum. Students learn vital kitchen skills, including food safety and knife cuts, and important management lessons, such as menu development and marketing. An annual state competition provides a hands-on opportunity for students to demonstrate the skills learned throughout the year and be judged by top industry professionals.
Hospitality & Tourism Management
Hospitality & Tourism Management is a newer program, with the State of Michigan Department of Education formally adopting the curriculum in 2021. Students learn about the core segments of the world of hospitality: lodging, food and beverage operations, tourism, attractions and travel, and event management.
“Whether students have a passion for the culinary or hospitality fields or are simply exploring career options, these turnkey programs provide hands-on experience, local apprenticeship and mentorship for students wishing to enter this exciting and growing field,” said Amanda Smith, executive director of the Michigan Hospitality Foundation, which provides support to schools adopting the ProStart and Hospitality Tourism Management programs.
The programs give students critical access to all sides of the hospitality industry, expanding student resources and educator support. Students are also given opportunities to network with business leaders in the culinary and hospitality fields, which gives them an immediate leg up in the job market.
Chef Max Hardy is a ProStart program graduate who has built a successful career in the restaurant industry. Since completing the program, he has earned national recognition working in and managing restaurants in New York, Miami and Detroit. The New York Times even named Hardy one of “16 Black chefs changing food in America.”
“ProStart was a really important part of my journey into the culinary field,” said Hardy. “It opened my eyes to everything the hospitality industry has to offer. You don’t just learn how to cook a meal. You learn everything it takes to turn that meal into a successful business, and that’s the sort of life lesson students take with them even if they don’t pursue a career in our industry.”
Opportunities are Plentiful
For students who are interested in a career in the restaurant or hospitality fields, opportunities are plentiful. The COVID-19 pandemic caused many challenges for local businesses, but the lifting of restrictions and a return to normalcy has left many owners playing catch up as the work to bring their staffing up to pre-pandemic levels. Seven of the fastest growing jobs in Michigan are hospitality-based.
“It’s a well-known fact that there was a lot of upheaval across the hospitality and restaurant sectors over the past three years, but times of change also bring new opportunities. Anyone with the right skills has their pick of career here in Michigan.” said Smith.
Smith said the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates hospitality to be an $18 BILLION industry in Michigan supporting more than 595,000 jobs across the state. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the U.S. economy to add 1.9 million jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries from 2021 to 2031.
“For those who don’t want to be stuck at in cubicle their entire careers, the ProStart and Hospitality Management programs are an excellent gateway into fulfilling and lucrative careers here in Michigan or anywhere in the world,” said Smith. “Whether someone wants to work in a big city or a quiet resort town, there are immediate career opportunities that you can access through these programs.”
For more information about the ProStart and Hospitality Tourism Management programs, please visit the Michigan Hospitality Foundation website.
Source: Hands-On Experience