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Massachusetts College Offers Classes For Entry-Level Jobs In Hospitality Sector


A new training program for the hospitality industry launched in Massachusetts today as thousands of jobs will soon open at the MGM casino.

Cambridge College will offer a first-of-its-kind program to prepare people to apply for entry-level jobs including food server, security officer, and concierge at the new MGM resort casino and other hotels and restaurants in western Massachusetts.

There are currently openings for 1,200 students in the Hospitality Pre-Apprenticeship Program, according to Teresa Forte, Director of Cambridge College Springfield.

"This is classroom training for the softer skills and customer service skills that are necessary and also those workforce skills of how to get ready to apply for the jobs," explained Forte.

It is the first job training program of this kind to be certified by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

" It is very very new," said Forte. " When you think of apprenticeships you think of electricians and plumbers. It really works the same way as in any other field, it is just focused toward hospitality careers."

The classes will be offered exclusively at the nonprofit college’s location in downtown Springfield beginning in February.  Classes are scheduled to last from 1-4 weeks depending on the level of training required.  Tuition ranges from $159-$459. 

Graduates receive a state-issued certificate.

As the Massachusetts economy has strengthened over the last several years, the hospitality industry has found it harder and harder to fill entry-level jobs.

The demand for hospitality workers in western Massachusetts will skyrocket as the MGM casino nears its opening date this September.  MGM has said the hotel and entertainment complex will create 3,000 jobs.

Wanda Gispert, Vice President of Talent and Workforce Development for MGM Resorts International. said the company worked with Cambridge College to identify the jobs it needs to fill in Springfield and to write the curriculum for the courses.

"We have over 200 job classifications, but in this program we have narrowed it down to the top six we know we will hire the most," she said.

The Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau helped write the curriculum for the concierge training program, according to bureau president Mary Kay Wydra.

" We want people working the front lines who are knowledgeable about the region," explained Wydra. " We want people (visiting the MGM casino) to extend their stays because it benefits everybody."

Cambridge College is the latest area school to launch training programs tied to the opening of the region’s first resort casino.  

Holyoke Community College has a new multimillion dollar culinary institute that was partly-funded by MGM.    HCC and Springfield Technical Community College have partnered to operate a  school that will start classes next month to teach people to run casino table games.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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