The Westchester County Office of Economic Development has launched its Rapid Response Customized Training program with the help of Westchester Community College.
On November 26, 12 students graduated from a food service program run by WCC to provide culinary workers for FLIK Hospitality Group’s operations at General Electric’s Management Development Institute.
The 10-day, 40-hour training program was a partnership with Westchester County Office of Economic Development and Westchester/Putnam Workforce Development Board. Adult students learned basic culinary skills and earned their ServSafe©food handler certification as well as a certificate of completion from Westchester Community College.
In addition to cooking and serving skills, students received three days of general jobs skills and customer service training. Graduates are now eligible for jobs at FLIK’s hotel and conference operations at General Electric’s 35-acre Management Development Institute in Ossining as well as jobs at FLIK’s operations at the IBM campus in Armonk.
Westchester County will shortly begin a second phase of the program offering hospitality training to prepare candidates for front desk and other office operations positions. It is one of several rapid response training programs that the county plans to roll out as it works with area businesses to address labor shortages due to low unemployment rates.
“We developed the Rapid Response Customized Training Program in response to businesses in Westchester who have told us that they are having difficulty recruiting skilled talent due to shortages in the labor market,’’ said Bridget Gibbons, Director of the Westchester County Office of Economic Development. “When GE approached us looking for food service workers, we designed a customized program to address their needs. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We are now looking to follow this with other customized training programs.”
John Walsh, General Manager for Flik Hospitality Group at GE’s Management Development Institute, thanked the Office of Economic Development for coming up with a quick solution to help deal with labor shortages in Westchester. He said students who completed the course will be eligible for positions with FLIK and he was hopeful that they would all be placed.
“After our meeting with the Office of Economic Development we received an immediate response,’’ said Walsh. “They assessed our needs and developed a training program in cooperation with Westchester Community College that provided job candidates with the right skills to fill our workforce needs quickly.”
Nearly half (46%) of U.S. employers report difficulty filling jobs with qualified candidates according to the Manpower Group 2018 Talent Shortage Survey. Demand for recruiting, training, and staffing services continues to grow as labor markets tighten and companies place a higher strategic focus on customized talent and training.
Jeanne Maloney, Assistant Dean-Workforce Development & Community Education for Westchester Community College, said that Westchester Community College quickly adapted a shortened version of its program to meet GE’s needs.
“Westchester Community College is pleased to have been part of this partnership that led to the College offering the Food Services Training Bootcamp. This intense, short-term workforce program responded to an employer need, and provided a pathway to job opportunities for participants,’’ said Maloney.
The program, she said, was designed and taught by the College’s Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Nutrition and Dietetics Department, and provided classroom and applied learning opportunities, and preparation for the ServSafe©Food Handler’s certification examination.
Eighteen-year-old Nassir Sturrup of Mount Vernon said he heard about the rapid response bootcamp through a job training program and was excited to start his new career.
“This is a beautiful program. It’s a great opportunity for young people like myself to start a culinary career,” he said.