Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Honors Hospitality Boot Camp Graduates
CALLS FOR INCREASED DIVERSITY IN HOTELS
Mayor announces $650,000 grant from the City to sponsor future hospitality training programs.
LOS ANGELES - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa honored 21 Hospitality Boot Camp graduates today, Oct. 14, 2009, in a ceremony that marked the completion of the first workforce-training program aimed at increasing the number of African-Americans working in hotels.
The Mayor praised the Boot Camp - a five-day, intensive training camp designed to give African-American jobseekers the skills and information they need to obtain well-paying, union jobs in the hospitality industry and announced a $650,000 grant from the City to sponsor future Hospitality training.
"I want to applaud the leadership efforts of the hotels, labor leaders and community groups who have come together to make Hospitality Boot Camp possible," Mayor Villaraigosa said. "Hospitality is the largest and fastest-growing industry in the City of Los Angeles. We must make sure that these jobs are available to everyone, because all Angelenos - regardless of race or ethnicity - deserve an opportunity to earn a living wage and quality benefits."
The Diversity Task Force, a coalition of LA-area hotels, the employeesâ€™ union UNITE HERE Local 11 and local community groups, sponsored the training camp, which took place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel.
Speaking on behalf of the participating hotels, Michael Czarcinski, general manager of the Westin Bonaventure Hotel, said the hotels are committed to building inclusive environments, representative of both the diverse make up of their hotel guests and the city of Los Angeles.
â€œThe 21 individuals who participated in the Boot Camp this past week are qualified, interested and motivated folks who would be an asset to any hotel in the Los Angeles area,â€ Czarcinski said.
The participants, through guidance and education from long-time hotel employees serving as mentors, learned the ins-and-outs of hotel operations.
They toured hotel departments, studied the art of guest service and received expert advice in resume writing and interviewing, among other things.
Before hearing about the Boot Camp through his motherâ€™s church, George Washington, a Boot Camp graduate, said he never considered a job in hospitality. But after being laid off of his union job at a Mars Petcare plant in Vernon last year, Washington has been exploring other options. He said he learned that there are long-term career opportunities, with union representation, in the hospitality industry and is excited to get his foot in the door.
â€œThere is flexibility to move around in the hospitality industry - and not just lateral movement, upward mobility as well,â€ Washington said.
Lateika Ward, another Boot Camp graduate, said she has participated in other workforce training programs, but the Hospitality Boot Camp was different.
â€œThey taught us how to be professional, to have a sense of pride, and a strong work ethic,â€ Ward said. â€œThe mentors have all these skills and showed us how to develop them. And most importantly, they showed us that they support us. Theyâ€™ve got our backs.â€
With the first Boot Camp complete, hotel managers Czarcinski and Bruce Gorelick, general manager of the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, called on LA-area hotels to take note of the talented pool of boot camp graduates.
â€œThese graduates deserve a shot and I encourage our local hotels to give them one,â€ Gorelick said.