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MRA Report: Restaurants Need Three Things: A Workforce



The hospitality industry workforce shortage is not expected to get better for many years. As the state’s second largest employer, generating more than $15 billion/yr. in revenue and supporting 400,000 jobs, Minnesota’s hospitality industry is projected to add tens of thousands more over the next decade.  Our state will need to grow restaurant jobs by 9 percent in the next 10 years to meet the anticipated demand. But, you already know this. You experience it every day.

Building the workforce we need won’t happen without doing something significant. One approach we are taking at the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation (HMEF) is creating a career pathway for young people who want to make their careers in hospitality.

Through our partnership with the National Restaurant Association Foundation, Hospitality MN Educational Foundation promotes the hospitality industry in Minnesota high schools and addresses the need for hospitality jobs through two signature programs: ProStart and the Hospitality Tourism Management Program.

What does this mean for you? We are increasing the number of well-trained, highly motivated young people who are eager to work in the restaurant and food service industry.

Many young people get their first jobs in foodservice. For some, it is the beginning of the careers they have dreamed of for themselves. For others, it starts as a job and evolves into a career they had never considered. By offering high school students exposure to what the industry is all about, including the incredible variety of roles and types of settings, we help young people imagine a career in an industry that they might have passed through on the way to somewhere else. 

So, what are these programs and how can you be a part of them?

ProStart is a two-year culinary arts and foodservice management program giving students the skills and knowledge to work in the industry, in both front- and back-of-house positions. Through mentored work experiences, behind the scenes tours, job shadowing and exposure to the expertise of chefs and managers, students learn about all dimensions of the industry. Offered in more than 70 Minnesota high schools and engaging more than 5,000 students, ProStart is organized around team competitions that start in Minnesota and takes winning teams to a national event in Washington, D.C.  

Similarly, the Hospitality Tourism Management Program, (HTMP), offers leadership development, mentored work experiences, tours, job shadowing and internships to learn all the elements of hospitality tourism management. HTMP students are prepared for opportunities in lodging, food and beverage, attractions, event production, general management. A program of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, HTMP is currently offered in more than 12 Minnesota schools, with more than 300 students participating each year. 

The costs to implement these programs falls to the schools—and to the industry. Teacher training, curriculum materials, equipment and food supplies requires financial resources, which can limit the expansion of these successful programs throughout the state. The Foundation’s role, in addition to administering the programs statewide, is to help raise the funds so that more schools can offer them to more students. We do that through both direct fundraising and by advising school fundraising efforts. We’ve also begun to explore new avenues of support through public-private partnerships to accelerate growth and impact. Through the generous support of individual and corporate donors, we have awarded more than $750,000 in scholarships to 313 Minnesota students interested in hospitality industry careers.

As we continue to build these efforts to develop the workforce with our partners in the schools, we need the support of our partners in the industry. Here’s how you can help:

Encourage your local high school to add the HTMP or ProStart Programs;

Serve as a mentor or internship host for a ProStart or HTMP school in your area; 

Promote the hospitality industry as a great career choice to your community; 

Support HMEF through a financial donation to support student scholarships or the Leaders Fund;

Attend the Stars of the Future event on October 27 and see the ProStart students and their chef mentors in action, preparing small plate samplings at the W Hotel in Minneapolis. (See sidebar for details.)

Through partnerships that bring our schools and our industry together, we can move a long way toward closing the projected workforce gap. We’re here and ready to do our part, and I invite you to share any thoughts about how we can help by contacting me at liz@hospitalitymn.com. 


About Hospitality Minnesota: 

Hospitality Minnesota serves more than 2,000 hospitality businesses across the state. Formed in 1958 to serve the Minnesota Restaurant Association, the Minnesota Lodging Association and the Minnesota Resort and Campground Association, Hospitality Minnesota advocates for the interests of business owners and their employees and provides opportunities for education and training to grow and strengthen the hospitality industry in Minnesota. Hospitality Minnesota is committed to helping member businesses succeed.  www.hospitalitymn.org

Liz Rammer is the president & CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, which includes The Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations.


Help grow the next generation of culinary stars!

Sunday, October 27, 2019
3-5 p.m.
The Living Room at the W Hotel, Minneapolis

Join us for a fun, interactive afternoon to support ProStart students and help build your future workforce!

Watch as ProStart student teams are paired with celebrated Minnesota chefs to prepare and serve elegant “restaurant ready” small plate tastings.

Attendees will have an opportunity to sample the dishes while networking with industry professionals and meet rising culinary stars of the future.

Cost: $100 per person – your tax deducible donation goes directly to support ProStart students. A silent auction is also included to raise funds for this important program. Register today at www.hospitalitymn.org or call 651.778.2400.

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