New Training Center to Focus on Building Diversity in Boston Luxury Hotels

More than 30 new hotels are under development. Gaming is arriving in Massachusetts. Hundreds of current hotel workers are moving toward retirement. The hospitality industry in Boston is growing dramatically. The implications: Employers are searching for more high-skill workers who see hotel and hospitality opportunities as a wise career choice, not just a temporary job.

Responding to these trends, an innovative workforce intermediary—Boston Employment, Skills and Training, or BEST—is unveiling a new job seeker training center in Dudley Square in Roxbury—an area of Boston where residents are desperate for quality jobs. The new BEST Hospitality Training Center will open its doors today, during National Apprenticeship Week.

Why the move to Dudley? This expansion is a direct result of industry growth and a Local 26 labor-management partnership that provides well-paid jobs with comprehensive benefits. One of BEST’s priorities is the Mel King Empowerment program, an introduction to hospitality class that focuses on the recruitment and training of U.S.-born African Americans. That population is currently underrepresented in many of Boston’s luxury hotels.

In 2016, BEST launched its first Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship program, with all 17 graduates getting job offers at its partner hotels. The pre-apprenticeship program provides a nationally recognized certification, ongoing career development and college credit for training and on-the-job experience. In 2017, BEST will expand this pre-apprenticeship program. Training 80 participants is the goal.

BEST is a partner of the AFL-CIO Working for America Institute’s $1.3 million Multiple Industry Intermediary contract from the Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA expansion initiative. The initiative is part of the department’s $20.4 million investment in 14 national industry intermediaries and national equity partners to expand apprenticeship opportunities across the United States.

BEST has an impressive history of working with more than 30 employer partners. The concept of apprenticeship is new to some hospitality employers but essential. Today’s housekeepers are expected to have far more skills than in the past. Once proficient in housekeeping, there’s a rich lattice of career opportunities within the hotel at which they are employed. With starting wages at $17.38 and excellent benefits, apprenticeship in hospitality makes sense.