Leveraging HM and HMEF to Improve Hospitality Workforce Landscape

More and more, when we talk about “Hospitality Minnesota,” we’re talking about the work and impact of not just one organization, but two.

The Hospitality Minnesota Association, the organization resulting from the merger of the three previously distinct hospitality sector associations, works together with the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization founded in 2006, to forge solutions to current workforce challenges with programs aimed at fostering the future leaders of the hospitality industry.

By leveraging and aligning the strengths and capabilities of the two organizations, we are able to engage and connect operators, who also serve as mentors, with prospective employees. By taking this continuum-based approach to workforce development, we are raising the visibility of hospitality as a great career choice that can allow someone to do any kind of work they want, anywhere they want to do it.

A quick look at the structure and focus of each organization reveals the strength and opportunity we have to change the hospitality workforce landscape in Minnesota. We’re only getting started and encourage members to get more involved with both organizations, both to the benefit of individual businesses and to the industry as a whole.

  • Mission:  Driving the growth and success of Minnesota’s hospitality businesses through knowledge-sharing, advocacy, and workforce support and development
  • Non-profit; not tax exempt; lobbying allowed
  • Funded through member dues, program and event fees, sponsorships, royalties and strategic partner investments
  • Primary focus is hospitality owners/operators, allied businesses, tourism partners
  • Provides resources and support to reduce friction and drive success for business decision makers
  • Served by a 24-member Board of Directors, focused on governance, strategy and recruitment
  • Mission:  Building the workforce of the future by preparing the next generation of hospitality leaders
  • Non-profit; tax exempt; limited lobbying allowed
  • Funded through charitable donations, grants, shared royalties from HM and event fees
  • Primary focus is students, educators, industry professionals, allied businesses
  • Provides workforce development curricula, scholarships and mentorships to prepare students for work and careers in the hospitality industry
  • Served by a 35-member Board of Directors, focused on governance, strategy and fundraising

Hospitality Minnesota Association Focus

Through the Hospitality Minnesota Association, we are committed to building partnerships with product and service vendors that support recruitment, training and retention. And, we share best practices our members can use immediately by tracking trade publications and learning from our members. One such emerging partnership is with the Job Launchpad, powered by Capango. (see separate “Creating a Recruitment Loop” story).

Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation Focus

Where the efforts of the Association focus on shorter-term solutions, the Education Foundation anchors the long-term end of the workforce development continuum. By integrating two nationally recognized curricula in culinary arts and hospitality management into high schools across Minnesota and offering scholarships to students completing post-secondary degrees in hospitality, the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation is building a stronger pipeline of future leaders.

Each year, more than 5,000 students participate in ProStart and Hospitality and Tourism Management programs at more than 100 Minnesota high schools. That number is growing through our outreach and expansion efforts. Currently, members of the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation and Hospitality Minnesota Association Boards of Directors are involved in direct outreach to schools across the state to encourage them to implement our programs.

The strength of the program lies in the quality of the educators committed to teaching culinary arts and hospitality management to eager students. In many schools where the programs are offered, there are waiting lists to join the classes. As award-winning Sauk Rapids-Rice High School educator, Mary Levinski notes, “Teaching the ProStart curriculum has allow me to share with students the wonderful opportunities afforded them on the Hospitality Career Pathway. ProStart gives students so many incredible opportunities that are real life skills for the world of work.” Mary’s hospitality management team took 2nd place in the National ProStart Invitational in Washington D.C. last June.

In 2021, Hospitality Minnesota received funds from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Two grants are available to schools. The first helps schools purchase the ProStart and/or Hospitality and Tourism Management program curricula. The second funds purchases in specific categories, including ServSafe food safety training, ingredients for class cooking labs and teacher training.

Another source of invaluable support comes straight from the hospitality industry. Financial, in-kind and mentor resources are the only way these programs work. From providing ingredients, equipment, uniforms and supplies to funding named scholarships and from mentoring to hosting students, committed industry professionals create a network of support that raises the quality of the program. Most would tell you get involved “to give back” and ended up feeling they receive more than they could have imagined.

The long-term vision for the Education Foundation is to expand into career development programming to support individuals interested in entering the field or building a life-long career in the hospitality industry. In doing so, Association members will have access to a resource for professional development for their emerging leaders.

This approach to workforce development challenges — offering near-term solutions for finding workers now while administering programs that cultivate interest in hospitality as a life-long career — is possible because we have two organizations with different and complementary capabilities. We intend to leverage them to address other challenges and opportunities the industry may face in the coming years.

Learn more about HM

Learn more about the HMEF


Photo credit:  Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

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