More than 50 hospitality educators and faculty from the California Community Colleges (CCC) and the Cal State University system gathered last month for the 4th annual Professional Development Hospitality Symposium at The Collins College of Hospitality Management.
The event, hosted by the CSU’s Hospitality Management Education Initiative (HMEI) and CCC, featured various panels of industry leaders who talked about company expectations for recent graduates.
“As a community college educator, it is very helpful to know trends in the industry along with the areas where we are missing the mark in terms of preparing students for the reality of careers,” said Cypress College hospitality management Professor Lisa Clark.
Industry professionals who participated in the April 19 symposium included management from Sysco, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Levy Restaurants, Lazy Dog Restaurants, Sodexo, Marie Callender’s, Omni Los Angeles, Disneyland Hotel, Marriott International, Pyramid Hotel Group and PFK Consulting. Each person talked about emerging industry trends, hiring expectations and bridging the gap between education and the workforce.
The annual hospitality symposium is made possible by a federal grant supported through the Carl Perkins law funding entity, which is divided among different school systems, according to Joann Driggers, family and consumer sciences educator at Mt. San Antonio College.
“The purpose of the grant is to provide professional development assistance to the eight disciplines of family consumer sciences – two of which are hospitality and culinary nutrition and food,” Driggers said.
This is the last year the grant will be funded in this way. In the future, rather than focusing on student leadership and professional development for faculty, it will emphasize matching curriculum to the jobs in demand regionally, instead of statewide, and making sure students are prepared for those jobs.
Focusing on regional markets is extremely important in hospitality, according to many of the industry leaders.
“We are a local market driven company,” said Michele Gendreau, director of food and beverage for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and a Cal Poly Pomona alumna. “California is very local driven and the CSU and CCCs are very local driven. Understanding that is the first step.”
Gendreau felt the hospitality symposium was a great way to get educators out into the real world together to discuss the future of hospitality education.
“How could they teach about the industry if they are not out in the industry?” she said. “And this brings the industry to them. It’s fabulous.”
(Photo: Joe Barton of SYSCO Los Angeles talks with students at the 4th Annual CCC/CSU Professional Development Hospitality Symposium at Cal Poly Pomona April 19, 2013.)