Unique WCCC Partnership Fills Statewide Line-Cook Shortage

January 9, 2020

To stem the acute shortage of restaurant workers plaguing Vacationland, HospitalityMaine and Washington County Community College received a $44,000 grant to train 125 HospitalityMaine member employees for culinary jobs. 

Announced at the HospitalityMaine Summit at Sugarloaf Monday, the grant from Maine Quality Centers allows Mainers interested in culinary careers to take free online classes as part of the association’s apprentice program. 

Through an innovative collaboration, WCCC is partnering with an internationally renowned culinary arts company called Rouxbe to deliver this new cloud-based Pro Cook program.  This online curriculum provides foundational skill building for entry-level line cooks.

“Now you can receive online training and get a job at all of our restaurants across the state, from Millinocket  to York,” said Terry Hayes, the association’s director of workforce development. “The service area is very broad, this is exactly what we need.”

CEO and President of HospitalityMaine Steve Hewins called this a “landmark partnership” that “relieves the only barrier we’ve found.” 

According to Nichole Sawyer, WCCC’s Dean of Workforce and Professional Development, “This collaborative partnership with Hospitality Maine, Maine Quality Centers, and Rouxbe offering an online training solution to fill a much needed entry-level skill set within the hospitality industry in Maine, reflects the true mission of WCCC’s Workforce and Professional Development Division.  Not only are we meeting an industry sector need, but also are providing an opportunity for Maine workers to increase skill sets and obtain an industry recognized credential as an entry point into Maine’s robust hospitality industry.  This is a starting point for workers that can take them to further training, additional credentials, degree attainment, and upward mobility within the field.”

The association’s earn-while-you learn apprenticeship program was launched in partnership with the Maine Department of Labor earlier this year. It includes education and job placement for both culinary and hospitality careers. 

Dan Belyea, Director of Workforce Training for Maine Community College System addressed the crowd of restaurateurs and hoteliers at the summit with the news.  “The Maine Community College System is here to support real, just-in-time training that meets the needs of employers at the speed of business,” he said.

To apply for the apprenticeship program visit: www.hospitalitymaine.com/page/Apprenticehome

To learn more about the Pro Cook training visit www.wccc.rouxbe.com