The National Restaurant Association has announced that its CEO and President Dawn Sweeney has been appointed by the U.S. Labor Department to join the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion.
The focus of the task force is to foster career pathways in different industries.
"The members of the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion will provide varied perspectives that will help guide the administration's strategy on growing apprenticeship programs nationwide. I am grateful for their participation in this important effort," said Alexander Acosta, secretary of labor leading the task force.
Sweeney will be representing the restaurant industry and will join a team of 20 influential leaders.
“We are honored to represent the restaurant and hospitality industry as a member of Secretary Acosta’s Apprenticeship Task Force,” said Sweeney in a statement. “Apprenticeships offer career development opportunities that are vital to growing our economy and training America’s workforce. We look forward to streamlining and expanding the apprenticeship program to open additional pathways to achieve the American Dream.”
Restaurant brands like Golden Corral, Firehouse Subs, and FATZ Café will be participating in the program by mentoring apprentices. In the hospitality space, Wyndham, Hyatt, and Hilton will be also offering apprenticeships through the program.
Sweeney is no stranger to these types of programs. The NRA's ProStart is a program already in place that focuses on employing young people.
“Our industry has its own educational program – ProStart – that last year reached more than 118,000 students at 1,700 high schools across 50 states,” said Sweeney about the program. “ProStart teaches high school students skills that are useful for any industry, while also focusing on culinary techniques and restaurant management fundamentals.”
1.5 million teens from the ages of 16 and 19 work in restaurants. To put things in perspective, that’s one-third of the working teen population in the U.S.
The restaurant industry remains the nation’s second-largest private sector employer with a massive workforce of 14.4 million.
According to the latest industry reports by the NRA, the industry is expected to produce $799 billion in sales this year.
This number is likely to change due to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma and Harvey. Thousands of establishments were closed, some for a week and some have yet to re-open. Roughly 111,000 jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality space due to the storms.