Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is all smiles with graduates of the Hospitality Training Academy. Photo by Brian W. Carter
Mayor Villaraigosa (left) and Executive Secretary of L.A. Federation of Labor Maria Elena Durazo (right) welcome Renaissance Hollywood Hotel office supervisor Marcus Clark-Oliver (Center). Photo by Brian W. Carter
The Hospitality program helps trainees gain jobs and skills within hotel chains.
By Brian W. Carter, Sentinel Staff Writer
At a time when jobs are too few and too far in between, their may be hope in a certain sector. There is a boom happening in tourism and that could mean more jobs to help a struggling economy.
The Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) could possibly be the avenue towards creating jobs within the hotel business. HTA plans to improve the economy by teaching workers' skills in guest service and creating hospitality jobs.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched the HTA with congratulating graduates of the program Monday, November 8 at the Radisson Hotel. "This program is an example of our collective commitment and collaboration to invest in local jobs, but more importantly to improve the skills of the people working in those jobs," said Villaraigosa.
The HTA is partnered with local and national organizations including, the Urban League, UNITE HERE local 11, West Los Angeles Community College, California Labor Federation's Workforce & Economic Development Program, Jewish Vocational Services, and union hotels throughout Los Angeles. Executive Secretary of L.A. Federation of Labor Maria Elena Durazo, West L.A. Vice President Robert Sprague, Union leaders, Hotel General managers, organization representatives, local council members and city dignitaries attended the event.
"I want to thank the Obama administration and federal government for $500,000 in funding for the pilot hospitality training program," said Villaraigosa. "Let's give a big thanks to the Obama administration."
"This is a dream of bringing training, institutionalizing training, and making it part and parcel of a hospitality industry or a permanent basis," said Durazo. "I want to congratulate all the graduates of the academy and also the graduates of the bootcamp."
The HTA pilot program started one year ago has 180 graduated trainees who are in career advancement programs. The program has been successful in placing 33 job seekers in union hotels, which provide living wage, full benefits and a pension. HTA also seeks to include diversity in its program by recruiting and training African-Americans for union hotel jobs.
"It gives them the opportunity to see which avenue may fit best with them," said Marcus Clark-Oliver. "When I heard about the program, I found out about it, it was a no-brainer. It really fit my personality and the person that I am."
Clark-Oliver is a graduate of the HTA's first bootcamp in October 2009. Clark-Oliver is grateful to the program that helped him out of a year of unemployment.
"I could have easily, when I was out of work...felt sorry for myself. I could have easily [been] down, stayed in the house, not look for anything, stay on unemployment, but no," said Clark-Oliver. "That's not me."
The bootcamp encompasses five days of training and introduction into hospitality. Trainees learn skills in various positions and receive interview techniques and vital information. Upon graduation you receive a certificate and qualified to apply for positions in the field of training.
"I was actually chosen by the general manager at the Renaissance because the bootcamp was there," said Clark-Oliver. He is now the front office supervisor at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel. Clark-Oliver is proud that he now has a successful career and can take care of his family.
"We all have a stake in the tourism industry succeeding," said Tom Walsh, president of hospitality union UNITE HERE Local 11. "With hospitality surpassing international trade as L.A. County's top industry, the Academy is building a training infrastructure that will be critical to the continued growth and success of the local economy."
For more information about the Hospitality Training Academy, you can contact UNITE HERE Local 11 Los Angeles & Orange County located at 464 S. Lucas Ave. Suite 201 in Los Angeles, California 90017. You can call (213) 481-8530 or send fax at (213) 481-0352. You may also contact by email at