Cooking with your Congressman: Langevin Highlights Potential to Grow Culinary Jobs
Apr 06, 2012 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) --
Continuing his Rhode Island Skilled Economy (RISE) Tour, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) highlighted the potential to grow jobs with a skilled workforce in the food services industry during a visit to Exeter Job Corps, where he recognized the first Rhode Island team to compete in a national culinary competition. Joined by RI Hospitality Association President/CEO Dale J. Venturini, Langevin met with students and instructors who participated in the National Restaurant Association's ProStart cooking contest, administered locally by the RI Hospitality Education Foundation. Following their discussion, students from state champion Team Phoenix, one of four Exeter teams involved, gave the Congressman a demonstration in the school's kitchen.
"Sustainable and accelerated job creation in Rhode Island requires an increased focus on training our workforce and closing the skills gap in sectors of the economy with the most growth potential," said Langevin, who co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus. "With the restaurant industry projected to add 1.3 million jobs in the next ten years, we must expand on the ProStart competition's collaboration between our businesses and educational institutions."
Today's discussion addressed ways of encouraging interested youth to pursue careers in food services, as well as the benefits of programs like the ProStart competition in preparing students for the job market. Langevin noted the efforts by Dale and her colleagues to engage as many industry leaders as possible. More than two dozen local businesses were represented among the contest judges.
The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA), in collaboration with U.S. Foods, hosted the first annual Rhode Island ProStart Culinary Competition in February, with the participation of 28 students from programs at Rhode Island career and technical schools. Teams were tested in a variety of areas, including: safe food transportation, knife skills, a three-course meal cook-off using only two burners, teamwork/cooperation, professionalism/appearance and plate presentation.
Exeter's Team Phoenix received the top score from a panel of expert judges and will represent the state later this month at the National Restaurant Association's ProStart Invitational competition in Baltimore, MD. Students will be judged by locally and nationally recognized hospitality and food professionals. Team Phoenix members have already received access to nearly $100,000 in scholarship money provided by Johnson & Wales University, Lincoln Culinary Institute, New England Culinary Institute and U.S. Foods. They will compete for nearly $1.4 million in scholarship money in the national competition.
"Student success will depend on our schools having the necessary resources, and today's meeting was yet another demonstration of the need to restore the federal Perkins funding that supports training and equipment for effective career and technical education," said Langevin, who has rallied more than 65 Members of Congress across the political spectrum to advocate for restoring Perkins funding to 2010 levels after cuts over the past two years. "I will continue to press my colleagues in Washington to understand the long-term economic benefits of providing these resources during fiscally challenging times."
The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) started the two-year ProStart program, which includes the annual contest, to build a pipeline of talented, dedicated high school students to meet the workforce challenge. According to NRAEF, ProStart's curriculum combines traditional classroom work with hands-on, real-world learning opportunities to help students succeed in the restaurant and foodservice industry. ProStart, which provides instruction in both culinary techniques and management skills, reaches 90,000 students in 1,700 schools across the country. In addition to administering the program in partnership with state restaurant associations, the NRAEF supports these students with scholarship opportunities. In 2011 alone, more than $800,000 in scholarships was awarded by the NRAEF to ProStart students, alumni and educators.
Over the coming months, the RISE tour, which began at Coventry High School with a forum on career and technical education funding, will take Langevin to a variety of venues to address closing our skills gap and strengthening our economy. The events advocate initiatives and create partnerships that help address the inability of employers to find workers capable of filling the needs of expanding industries. He is asking schools, companies, job training facilities and other organizations that want to be involved to contact his office with ideas.
Read this original document at: http://langevin.house.gov/news/press-releases/2012/04/cooking-with-your-congressman-langevin-highlights-potential-to-grow-culinary-jobs.shtml
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