With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to be a factor when it comes to business hiring processes many companies throughout the country are facing serious worker shortages since the beginning of the pandemic as prior to the pandemic the restaurant industry by itself represented almost 10% of Colorado’s labor force. Starting at the beginning of the pandemic many restaurants and their staff were hit significantly hard. A recent report from the Colorado Restaurant Association found that around 77,000 restaurant workers had lost their jobs and were still out of work, and as much as 40% of the state’s restaurants are in danger of closing.
The state is hoping to combat this trend with an apprenticeship called the Restaurant Youth Registered Apprenticeship program. This program is helping to connect young people interested in the restaurant industry with restaurants in their area and help to provide an alternative career pathway for students while also helping restaurants alleviate some of their worker shortages.
“There is a statewide investment to get these programs off the ground, as apprenticeship leads to more competitive jobs, workforce development, and a way for operators to recover from the ongoing impact of COVID-19. Watercourse Foods is also taking this program to southern Colorado in a new operation expected this summer, providing competitive work opportunities and career pathways for rural communities.”
Lauren Roberts, President of Watercourse Foods
The RYRA works to help Restaurant Management apprentices gain skills in restaurant leadership, operations, financial management, and marketing. Line Cook apprentices learn hard culinary skill sets, food safety, and sanitation knowledge, and the fundamentals of inventory and supply management. Seeing the urgency in the local food industry local school Emily Griffith Technical College applied its apprenticeship experience to this new joint effort by offering extensive student support. The school provides apprentices with resources like wraparound services and additional funds that our students may not otherwise have. As an added benefit, it provides students with a case manager to track their progress and support them on their culinary journey.
For the participants, there are many benefits of completing the program as the earn while you learn structure allows for income earnings to coincide with educational classes. The supportive services provided by Emily Griffith help mentor the student to successfully balance employment and coursework for a softer adjustment into the job sector. Once an apprentice completes the program they then receive a nationally recognized certificate, giving them an advantage when seeking employment.