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Southwest Tennessee Community College serves up new hospitality program to help fill workforce

Southwest Tennessee Community College is starting a free new program to meet the needs of the jobs available in hospitality.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – About 10% of the jobs in Memphis are in the hospitality industry, and it’s growing even more with the expansion of hotels, restaurants, and a popular tourist location.

That’s why Southwest Tennessee Community College is starting a free new program to meet the needs of the jobs available in hospitality. With the sound, energy, and liveliness of Memphis, tourists can’t help but to flock to the city. 

“The hospitality industry also combats a lot of high turnovers,” said Dr. Glenda Collins, Southwest Tennessee Community College Workforce Programs and Partnerships Director.

To reverse the rate, Southwest Tennessee Community College is hoping to jump ahead of the shortage and give people the skills they need to stay in these jobs. 

“We really wanted the opportunity to help industry growth, but we really need the workforce to help the industry grow,” said Dr. Collns. 

Beginning March 9th, the school will offer a five-week hospitality training course teaching soft skills and technical skills. 

Dr. Collins said, “The keyword is customer service. How do you communicate? That’s beyond just speaking. It’s listening. What tone do I use? For certain audiences, how do I turn certain elements on or off?”

Thanks to the Economic Development Growth Engine grant, the course is free. 

“We want to work with our community and meet them where they are. To do that, we need to acknowledge that sometimes costs can be a barrier. The grant really helps us open the door to get everyone access,” said Dr. Collins.

The course will be offered at the school’s Whitehaven Center, which is a prime spot for the college. 

“We have the Elvis Presley Enterprise, which through the guest house and Graceland, are natural. Jobs are really coming out there,” said Dr. Collins. “It’s been industry-driven since day one. We’ve had industries such as Graceland at the table. We’ve had Hilton there. We’ve had Welcome to Memphis and also a rep from Backbeat Tours. They have told us and we have listened to the need to be successful on day one.”

Students completing the program will get two certifications; the Serve Safe Food Handler certification and the American Hotel and Lodging Institute’s Certified Guest Service Professional certificate.

For their first class, the college will take up to 20 students. They are hoping to begin a second class in May.

Anyone interested in learning about the program and becoming a participant can contact the Southwest Workforce and Community Solutions at (901) 333-4207.