Community Interest – April 2007

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Community Interest” April 2007.

The Hospitality Institute and Tourism Management Program

Napa Valley College
The Hospitality Institute and Hospitality and Tourism Management Program
By Kathleen Dreessen

The State of California Employment Development Department forecasts occupations within the hospitality and the tourism industry are expected to grow by 22% by 2008, with an estimated 300 new openings in the next five years.

With tourism our second largest industry, Napa Valley College (NVC) recognizes the demand for trained hospitality employees in the Napa Valley. Working with local businesses, they developed a certificate and degree Hospitality and Tourism Management Program and the Napa Valley College Hospitality Institute.

“A few years ago at our College President’s Business Advisory Committee, the attendees, business leaders throughout the valley, were very outspoken that Napa Valley College should be offering a hospitality training program,” says Beth Pratt, director of the Napa Valley College Small Business Development Center.

“Two years ago Bill Blair, our Dean of Occupational Education and Workforce Development, helped to respond by bringing in two smaller grants to provide Customer Service training at our Customer Service Academy and later a mini-grant to provide the Wine Country Food and Beverage Management Symposium. The symposium was a hit with over 100 regional food and beverage managers attending. Additionally, during the last two years, counseling and training for wine-hospitality industry businesses at our Small Business Development Center increased by over 150%. These businesses include restaurants, wine-tasting rooms, small wineries, spas and caterers.”

NVC leaders knew they needed more, so they enlarged the scope of their training.

”In 2006 Bill Blair and I worked closely with the hospitality, wine and economic development industries in Napa County,” says Pratt. “We met with nearly 30 business leaders, economic leaders, and hospitality leaders to find out the growing needs for hospitality training. In the end we had over 23 businesses and organizations support and sign off on two hospitality grants. One grant allows NVC to start a Hospitality Management program at the college and work closely with industry partners and the high school ROP (Regional Occupational Program). The second grant allows us to help employers and employees in our growing wine-hospitality-tourism industry. We are training support for those already in the industries looking to upgrade their skills and keep our county businesses vital.”

Ian MacNeil is the project coordinator for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program.

“We have already started this semester with an Introduction to Hospitality Management Class,” says MacNeil, who has 19 years in the wine and hospitality business with experience in direct marketing, leadership training, special events and operations. “In the fall, we’re adding classes in Hotel Administration and Hospitality Sales. The class I’m teaching has great students. We have 19 enrolled and they are very engaged. Many are already working in the hospitality industry and others are in the middle of a career change and stepping into hospitality.”

MacNeil explains that the NVC Hospitality Institute works with businesses to help train employees already in the industry, including specially tailored training and the Hospitality & Tourism Management program focuses on training students to join the hospitality workforce.

Dean of Occupational Education and Workforce Development Bill Blair says that several other community colleges offer hospitality training.

“Most of them are restaurant and food focused,” says Blair. “We see the huge increase in hotel rooms in Napa Valley and put our focus on hospitality and hotel management. Since wine is the number one industry, we’ll have additional classes in that area. Also, spa management classes are in the future. Because it’s becoming so complex, hotel managers have also requested classes in hospitality law.

“We’re in the development phase at this point,” says Blair. “We’re working hard on the curriculum and want to have it in place next semester.”
Blair says the governor approved $20 million in grant money to fund career technical programs.

“We applied for two grants and got both of them, amazingly. I think the reason was the demonstration of the backing we received. It’s a partnership; 23 different partners wrote letters of support and we’ve gotten great feedback from the community.”

The first grant, in the amount of $428,000 will fund the Hospitality Institute and the second grant through the statewide Career Technical Education Programs, in the amount of $249,000, will start the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program. The grants will offer training for new employees to enter the field and for employees working in the field to upgrade job skills, expand the SBDC Customer Service Academy, train employers in the wine industry, work with the Workforce Investment Board to enhance career opportunities in hospitality and integrate with the NVC hospitality management program.

It is a collaborative effort with the NVEDC, the Napa Valley Vintners, Napa County Workforce Development Board, Convention and Visitors Bureau, COPIA, the Napa Chamber of Commerce, the Culinary Institute of America and the local hospitality industry, restaurants, hotels, resorts, wineries and professional associations.

“The funding for our Hospitality Training Programs from the Economic Workforce Development Division of California Community College’s would not have been possible if our community partners in industry and economic development leadership did not show such strong support of the projects,” says Pratt of the NVCSBDC. “The Hospitality Institute is truly a Napa Valley collaborative effort. We are providing resources, counseling and training that will help Napa County hospitality businesses remain competitive ant thrive.”

For further information, contact Ian MacNeil, project coordinator, (707) 259-6047 or or the NVC Small Business Development Center, (707) 253-3210.


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