Miami Dade College to retrain thousands of jobless hotel workers
Miami Dade College will receive $3 million funded through the federal CARES Act to provide professional training and administer financial relief to unemployed hotel workers.
In legislation sponsored by Commissioner Eileen Higgins, the county commission recently approved The Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program. Miami Dade College [MDC] will administer the grant and training program, and the Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association [GMBHA] will develop the program.
The relief grant program will provide compensation of $1,000 to up to 2,500 eligible unemployed hospitality workers who complete the virtual hotel training workshop. The workshop will include a curriculum for the professional development of hotel workers, including employment skills training, opportunities for advancement in the hotel industry and exposure to other career paths, said Shelly Fano, executive director of MDC’s Hospitality Institute Program. “We are going to have 10 sessions a week. The two-day workshop will be four hours long each day during our fall term,” she said.
The hospitality industry is one of the leading employment sectors in the community and a vital contributor to the county’s economy, with employment in the travel and hospitality sector reaching 147,000 jobs in 2019 and creating an estimated $17 billion in economic impact. The county hotel industry had a strong performance in 2019, ranking in the top 10 among the top 25 hotel markets in the US as reported by STR, which studies the industry, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s 2019 Visitor Industry Overview report.
Miami-Dade attracted 16.3 million overnight visitors and 7.9 million day-trippers, for a record 24.2 million visitors in 2019. Total economic impact eclipsed $17.9 billion with $16.3 billion coming from overnight guests, the report continued.
The skillset training program, which is to start at the end of August, will also help registered students update their resumes, offer college information on how to register for short-term college certificate, how to apply for financial aid, and life skills for those who need time to reflect about their concerns and anxiety, Ms. Fano said.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in Miami’s leisure and hospitality sector fell sharply, a loss of 129,100 for 12 months ending in May, the largest loss of jobs among local major industry sectors. Miami had a 38.3 % rate of job loss for the leisure and hospitality industry compared to a 40.6% national decline.
“Right now, people need jobs. Whether it’s in the tourism industry or not, they need a source of income to pay their bills,” Ms. Fano said. “The hospitality industry is known for bouncing back. We are the first to get hit during an economic crisis, but also the first to bounce right back. People want to go out, eat out and go on vacation. Once the virus goes away, this industry will come back at full force.”
The workshop will allow hotel workers to gain skills that will help qualify for other jobs in Miami-Dade, but it won’t affect the employment rate for the hotel and hospitality industry, said Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami and Beaches Hotel Association, which represents over 200 hotels and has 35 board members who are in the hotel industry.
Employees who have been furloughed or lost their jobs due to the pandemic are encouraged to contact their workplace’s human resource department for more information on how to get started with the workshop application process, Ms. Kallergis said.
“The hotel business is slow right now, but hopefully things will get better in the coming months and that’s when we will see a lot of our hotel workers come back,” she said. “For now, they will at least be able to qualify for other job opportunities.”