In dining rooms and kitchens across the United States, restaurant apprentices are learning the skills and responsibilities that will get them ahead in their industry careers. While many may not associate apprenticeship with the restaurant industry, this year, during National Apprenticeship Week, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is celebrating the successful role it is playing in building opportunities for industry workers in the years ahead.
Through apprenticeships, restaurant employees establish industry careers with a clear path to professional growth. Restaurant apprenticeship merges hands-on training inherent in a foodservice environment, mentorship by restaurant staff, a formal training curriculum, and Department of Labor (DOL)-certified credentials. Employees emerge trained and equipped to scale management and leadership roles in their workplace.
"So much of what is needed to succeed and grow in a restaurant career is learned on the job, making the industry a great fit for registered apprenticeship," said Rob Gifford, president of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF).
"Our industry is full of talented people, and we have a lot of runway for them to grow and become the next chefs, managers, and leaders."
In an industry where nine in 10 managers started in entry-level roles, apprenticeship is an especially attractive way for individuals looking to gain the knowledge and skills to develop a long-term restaurant career and achieve economic mobility. Apprentices receive a guaranteed wage increase during their course of study, and their DOL-backed credentials are transferable to other restaurant and hospitality workplaces.
"I was looking for another option besides college, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn, work and grow in this program. For my career, I think it's meant everything because I learned how to be professional. I learned how to work out real-world problems and just be a better person overall," said Daniela Fernandez, a participant in the NRAEF's Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship (RYRA) program in Colorado.
A designated Apprenticeship Ambassador by the DOL, the NRAEF is creating industry apprenticeship opportunities through its Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC), which houses its Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship Program (HSRA), RYRA, and Veteran Apprenticeship and Labor Opportunity Reform Act (VALOR) programs.
In July, the NRAEF was awarded a five-year $12.2 million contract – the largest ever awarded to the Foundation – by the DOL to grow its HSRA program by 5,000 participants. Since establishing itself as the first recognized apprenticeship program for hospitality management, the HSRA program has grown to include line cooks, hotel cooks, kitchen managers, restaurant managers, lodging managers, and maintenance employee programs.
Now in its ninth year, National Apprenticeship Week is a nationwide celebration hosted by the DOL. Throughout the week, industry, labour, equity, workforce, education, and government leaders will host events to showcase the successes and value of Registered Apprenticeship for building the economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities.