While the continued pandemic presents many unknowns, the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA) continues to look for opportunities to engage both students and industry.
“The association had to pivot quite a bit to be able to support the hospitality industry to the best of our ability,” said Amie Pariseau, Education and Workforce Development Director.
On the education side of her job, Pariseau said she has been mindful of not wanting to lose her connection with students, many of whom are learning remotely.
“Jumping off the Virtual New Hampshire Hospitality Month idea, I built a YouTube channel called Explore NH Careers, which is also a website with the same name,” she said. “The YouTube channel will be shared with Extended Learning Coordinators, CTE teachers, traditional teachers, VLACS, and community partners, such as Project SEARCH, Girl Scouts, and Girls Inc.”
The content, she said, is varied and includes everything from cooking demonstrations and learning about cuts of beef to industry tours and industry chats.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Pariseau, who noted several industry members “are ready to join in on Zoom chats and demonstrations.”
“I will also be working with the Department of Education to learn about their preferred platform in order to share documents and other tools,” she added.
Regarding her focus on the workforce, Pariseau said she continues to promote the NH Restaurants, Hotels, & Attractions Job Board and connect community partners, such as Veterans Affairs to jobs.
“I just try to support them the best I can through this time,” she said.
According to Pariseau, though, the pandemic has presented NHLRA with a somewhat stark reality.
“In March through June, I lost the opportunity to showcase the industry to middle school and high school students,” she explained.
April had also been set as New Hampshire Hospitality Month in which 500+ students were scheduled to tour properties around the state and learn about the different opportunities and career pathways in the industry.
“I created a YouTube playlist for Virtual New Hampshire Hospitality Month, which I hoped to fill with tours,” said Pariseau. “With the industry trying to survive, it was particularly hard to ask them to participate, though, and so it’s mostly populated with cooking demonstrations.”
On the workforce side, the training NHLRA scheduled in partnership with Granite State College, “Fundamentals of Hospitality Management,” was canceled in the spring.
“With the college only offering programs virtually in the fall, we have decided to forgo this training at this time.,” she noted. “We have been working diligently, however, on sharing training tools through both the National Restaurant Association and American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, which have been free or low cost.”
In looking ahead, Pariseau said she and NHLRA will continue to work on finding the best ways to interact with students.
“They are the future generation of this industry,” she said.
Without the ability to get them out to see the industry behind the scenes, talk to people who are passionate about what they do and give them hands on experiences, Pariseau acknowledges she is worried.
“I can’t promote hospitality as a viable career path,” she said. “Virtual learning is a real challenge for me to overcome to be able to promote the industry that drives New Hampshire’s economy, but it is one I am tackling head-on.”
To learn more about NHLRA, or NHLRA’s Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund which has provided close to $150,000 to hospitality employees impacted by the coronavirus, visit https://www.nhlra.com.