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February 7, 2019

HospitalityMaine picks Terry Hayes to lead workforce development effort

Courtesy / HospitalityMaine
Courtesy / HospitalityMaine
2018 gubernatorial contender Terry Hayes is HospitalityMaine's new director of workforce development.

After a statewide search, HospitalityMaine has found its new director of workforce development.

Terry Hayes, a former state treasurer, legislator and 2018 gubernatorial contender, started in her new position Feb. 4. She will direct the nonprofit association's new hospitality apprenticeship program, which is designed to be an "earn while you learn" approach. She will also lead education and training programs for the 1,000 hotel and restaurant members HospitalityMaine represents across the state.

"Hiring and retaining excellent employees is the number one concern of our members today, and vital in sustaining the success of Maine's hospitality industry," Steve Hewins, president and CEO of HospitalityMaine, said in a Feb. 6 news release.

This month, Hayes is connecting with members and with education institutions in preparation for the official launch of the apprenticeship program on March 27, during HospitalityMaine's annual Maine Restaurant & Lodging Expo at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Hewins told Mainebiz.

"Our goal is to have 36 apprentice locations, and up to 100 students in the first year of the program," Hewins said. "Those are aggressive goals but we have an acute need, so we have to respond."

Workforce shortage is curbing the growth of the industry, he said. The position is new for the organization.

"The goal is to establish and to build long term future leaders in the industry," he said.

In the midst of her first week, Hayes told Mainebiz she's been busy connecting with the membership and with educational partners for the apprenticeship program.

"A lot of this is connecting dots that already exist, but focused on hospitality," she said.

She will also lead education and training programs for HospitalityMaine members. That includes helping members understand how the apprenticeship program will work and what their role can be.

"Hiring young people as apprentices requires specific commitments on the part of the employer," she said. "There's a 2,000-hour work requirement, supervision, progress notation and a variety of other activities that employers take on as the site for the apprentice. Part of my job is to make sure the employer is successful."

Connecting young people to jobs

A big part of the job is being a connector.

"A lot of young people don't understand the range of career choices in the industry," she said. "This is not just dishwashers and servers. There are real opportunities for young people. If they want to be in the kitchen, there's a path we can help pave for them in becoming a head chef, for example. And the same for someone who wants to be at the management level on the lodging side. We want them to know of the opportunities that exist and help them pursue that."

Hewins said the apprenticeship program aims to address the issue of retention.

"An apprentice is not an intern," he said. "They're being trained to be long-term employees. We have a retention problem. So when you invest in having an apprentice work for you, the goal is to retain that person."

The program will include structured mentoring and 140 hours in the classroom. The classroom component will be launched at Southern Maine Community College and the plan is to roll it out across all of Maine's community colleges.

The core market for apprentices is high school graduates who are looking for careers, Hewins said. Many Maine high schools are already teaching career and technical education programs; more than two dozen of those already have hospitality programs, he said.

One of the hospitality programs is ProStart, offered through HospitalityMaine. According to its website, ProStart is a two-year curriculum designed to teach high school students the culinary and management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry. Students also have the opportunity to participate in paid internships where industry managers mentor them. Sixteen of Maine's secondary schools and technical centers offer ProStart.

"So when they come into our program, they'll already have advanced placement," Hewins continued.

The apprenticeship program, he said, is designed to reach students who want to build a career and emerge with no college debt.

"We're trying to home-grow workers in our industry," he added.

Hospitality industry: 4,000 vacancies

This home-grown approach to sourcing local employees and creating a viable career path is one way to ease the industry's reliance on foreign, temporary workers, according to the release.

Behind health care, hospitality is Maine's top industry, yet there are currently 4,000 vacant jobs, according to the release.

"When I ran for governor, Maine's workforce challenges were at the top of my to-do list," Hayes, an independent from Buckfield, said in the release. "Our demographics are stacked; labor is going to continue to be the number one challenge for our hospitality industry statewide. Securing a reliable, skilled talent supply chain is our goal."

Hayes is a former educator who got her start working in restaurants and inns. She waited on tables in Lewiston and was chambermaid in Kennebunkport.

"This is an opportunity to take the passion I have for education, to address workers challenges and apply it to hospitality," Hayes said in the release. "I am looking forward to helping make a positive difference in Maine's signature industry."

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