With the hospitality industry struggling to fill open positions, education and workforce development was a strong focus in 2018 for the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA).

“There’s not one solution, but throughout 2018, we worked to create programs and activities we hope will help build the next generation of industry leaders and develop the skills of the current workers,” said NHLRA’s Amie Pariseau.

To achieve this objective, she said NHLRA focused its efforts on middle school and high school students. In speaking with both students and educators about hospitality and available opportunities and pathways, Pariseau cited a misunderstanding about what the word ‘hospitality’ actually means.

“If our students equate hospitality to health care and not restaurants, lodging, and tourism, we have quite a battle,” she said.

In 2018, one of NHLRA’s largest endeavors was the introduction of New Hampshire Hospitality Month in which middle school and high school students toured local industry sites, including hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and entertainment venues.

“Students received an exclusive behind the scenes view of business operations and were able to interact with current employees,” she said.

2018 New Hampshire Hospitality Month by the Numbers

  • 20 middle schools, high schools, and community partners registered
  • White Mountains Community College hosted a group for a day of baking and cooking demonstrations
    320 students participated
  • 21 hospitality industry sites (11 restaurants, 6 hotels/ inn, 1 baseball stadium, 1 production site, 1 ski resort, 1 winery/ distillery)
  • 39 tours

In keeping with the hospitality industry’s “promote from within” mindset along with their partners at Granite State College, NHLRA hosted Fundamentals of Hospitality Management in 2018. Pariseau described it as a three part series in leadership and management that targeted entry level management, those showing promise in a future management role, and even veteran managers.

“Over the course of three cohorts, 62 industry members attended with 52 receiving a certificate of participation endorsed by Granite State College and the NHLRA,” she said.

She noted they also had 20 attendees, 16 of whom received a certificate of participation, for the two part series, Managing Human Resources in Hospitality. This series focused on interviewing and training skills, documentation, and building a positive workplace culture.

In looking ahead to 2019, Pariseau said their work in education and workforce development “will remain steadfast” given a low unemployment rate and continued decline in enrollments for hospitality CTE programs and in post secondary programs. She said 2019 will also see the return of New Hampshire Hospitality Month in April.

“Plans are underway to again offer industry tours and hands-on experiences,” she added. “We’re working with the industry, community partners and the community college system to develop activities that can include both parents and guardians and students.”

These activities could include a tour/discussion at a community college about program offerings, a visit to a local property with an industry panel about industry careers, or a chance to learn a new recipe and cook a meal.

“We think this engagement is necessary to elevate the hospitality industry as a viable career option,” explained Pariseau.

In addition to the return of Fundamentals of Hospitality Management and Managing Human Resources in Hospitality, NHLRA will introduce Managing Operations in Hospitality in partnership with Granite State College.

“This new series will feature budgeting, calculating food, beverage, and labor costs, and learning financial and managerial concepts,” she said.

Expressing optimism for a strong 2019, Pariseau acknowledged challenges remain.

“We know our industry members will continue to face workforce challenges,” she said. “Our role is to actively support them and continue to build pipelines into industry with existing and new partners.”

To learn more about NHLRA, visit https://www.nhlra.com.