2005-09-14 / Features

LaG CC Gets Immigrant Hospitality Training Grant

To address workforce shortages in the hospitality industry, LaGuardia Community College has received a $494,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop a model curriculum that will provide individuals having limited English language skills with the language instruction and skills training they need to pursue a career in the industry.

“The fast-growing hospitality industry is very much in need of skilled workers,” Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said in announcing grants of $2.6 million for hospitality industry training under the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative. “Thousands of workers will benefit from the outreach, English literacy, and occupational skills that the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative is making possible through these grants,” she said.

LaGuardia Community College was one of three institutions in the nation to share the grant package. Also receiving grants were the Southern Nevada Workforce Investment Board and Johnson and Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island.

“LaGuardia’s Division of Adult and Continuing Education [ACE] has been in the forefront of workforce development programs for low-income individuals in New York City,” ACE Acting Vice President Jane Schulman said. “This grant from the U.S. Department of Labor is recognition of the pioneering role we have played in the field, particularly in the development of training programs for immigrant English language learners.”

Suma Kurien, director of the LaG CC Center for Immigrant Education and Training, which will be overseeing the Hotel Teach project, said that at present approximately 50 percent of the workers in the city's hospitality industry are immigrants, many of whom are working in the lowest-paying jobs.

During the 18-month project, some 40 students will attend a 16-week, 160-hour program that will integrate English language instruction with skills training needed to prepare students for careers in the hospitality field.

In developing the curriculum, the college partnered with the National Retail Federation, local hotels, and other experts in the field.

The college will be training a new crop of industry employees at a time when the city tourism industry is thriving and skilled workers are in demand.

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