Building an Online Hospitality Training Program for Minnesota

A woman waiting to greet guests at a reservation desk.Prior to the pandemic, our members told us that finding, training and keeping workers was their top issue. That problem has only gotten bigger, and we’ve set out to build a stronger pipeline of future workers. One way is through a free, online training program.

While we’re helping find short-term solutions for our members, we’ve organized a coalition of statewide partners to build a program aimed at attracting and preparing job seekers for positions in hospitality and tourism businesses.

We began to explore the possibility when former board member, Jason Subbert of TPI Hospitality brought Visit South Dakota’s successful program to our attention. Knowing that our members were looking for both workers and readily accessible training options, we began reaching out to build a coalition to see what we could build for Minnesota.

The idea has taken off! Working first with the University of Minnesota Tourism Center’s new director, Xinyi Qian, the coalition of partner organizations has grown to include:

  • Explore Minnesota Tourism
  • Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
  • Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus
  • MN Tourism Growth Coalition
  • Visit St. Paul
  • Meet Minneapolis
  • Minneapolis Regional Chamber
  • Minneapolis Downtown Council
  • Brainerd Lakes Chamber
  • Rochester Area Chamber
  • Duluth Area Chamber
  • Visit Mankato
  • Greater Minneapolis Hotel Association
  • Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA)
  • Minnesota Craft Brewer’s Guild

The goal of the program is to create a program to train frontline workers on what it takes to deliver high-quality customer service. The training is intended to be free, open to anyone and easily accessible online and mobile device friendly. It will be organized in parts, with each made up of video(s), related resources and a short quiz. When completed, the individual will receive a certificate of completion. You can learn more by reading our Issue Brief.

Right now, companion bills are moving through the Minnesota Legislature for an appropriation to fund it. Rep. Dave Baker (Wilmar) is the chief author on HF3550 and Sen. Carrie Ruud (Breezy Point) is chief author on SF3771.

The bipartisan companion bills ask for one-time appropriation of $275,000 to go to the University of Minnesota to create and operate an online training program in partnership with Explore Minnesota Tourism. The program must be made available at no cost to Minnesota residents.

Other authors include Reps John Poston (Nisswa), Greg Boe (Chanhassen), Liz Olson (Duluth), Keith Franke (St. Paul Park) and Andrew Carlson (Bloomington), and Sens Susan Kent (Woodbury), Gene Dornink (Hayfield), Roger Chamberlain (Lino Lakes) and David Senjem (Rochester).

On March 10, HF3550 moved out of the House Workforce Division on unanimous vote and was sent to the Higher Education Committee. On March 14, Ben Wogsland, Jason Subbert and Xinyi Qian received a positive hearing when they testified before the Senate Jobs Committee. Click here to watch a video recording of the testimony.

We’re optimistic about the prospects for this appropriation, and you can help push over the finish line by reaching out to your legislators to urge their support, and thanking the authors listed above. Click here for information on contacting legislators.

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 23, and we hope we’ll have exciting news to share about this program moving forward. Stay tuned!

 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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