The Republican National Convention showcased Cleveland’s resurgence on a national, and indeed international, scale. Delegates, members of the press and numerous others filled hotels across the region, and their reaction to Northeast Ohio was overwhelmingly positive.
The success of this major event was supported by innumerable organizations, businesses and individuals — most especially the RNC Host Committee and Destination Cleveland. I am pleased that Cuyahoga Community College had some part to play in this success as well. One of our proud achievements was helping to meet the workforce needs of the hospitality industry for the RNC and beyond.
Knowing that several large hotel properties would be coming online for the RNC and would require hundreds of new employees, in August last year Tri-C reached out to the general managers of area hotels and Destination Cleveland.
The goal was to get a better understanding of their workforce needs and concerns, and from there determine how Tri-C could be of assistance.
Out of these conversations came the five-week Hospitality Boot Camp. A pilot cohort launched successfully this past March, just seven months after the initial conversations. The Hospitality Boot Camp is a partnership with Ohio Means Jobs, which provides funding to qualified applicants and assists with the candidate selection process.
While Tri-C already offered short-term certificates and degrees in hospitality management, this new boot camp approach allows the college to provide fast-track training in a specific area where there is a large need for trained workers. The 30-hour course is held over five Saturdays, and the only cost to the students is a $25 application fee.
The curriculum includes topics such as food safety, business etiquette and guest services. Students have the opportunity to take and pass the Servsafe® Ohio Food Handler exam and Certified Guest Service Professional exam. Upon successful completion, candidates may be placed in positions such as hotel front desk agent, general maintenance and housekeeping and room service, among others.
Strong demand seen
There was such strong demand at the initial recruiting session that a second cohort was added in April. Among the first two cohorts, the employment rate for graduates is currently 82 percent. These students have been hired by such prestigious hotels and properties as Hilton Cleveland Downtown, Hyatt Cleveland, Marriott, the Renaissance Cleveland and Metropolitan at the 9.
A third cohort started the boot camp in July, with two more sessions planned through the end of this year.
The Hospitality Boot Camps present just one example of the value of partnerships between employers and educational providers like Tri-C.
These partnerships are bearing fruit in fields including information technology, advanced manufacturing, health careers, public safety, creative arts and others. This ability to partner to align training programs with high-demand, rapidly changing workforce sectors is crucial to maintaining the momentum of Cleveland’s growth and prosperity for years to come. ●
Alex Johnson, Ph.D., is president at Cuyahoga Community College.