Food News Media released its fourth podcast episode of “Big Picture Management.”
Host Blair Chancey, editorial director of Food News Media, speaks with Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group, and Wendi Safstrom, vice president of educational programs for the NRAEF.
Riehle outlines the economic health of the restaurant industry while Safstrom talks about the ProStart program, and the two tie education together with the future of careers in the restaurant industry.
Riehle explains that 13 million Americans, or nearly one out of every 10, are employed in the restaurant industry, making it the nation’s second-largest private sector employer.
“Even in the slow economic times, the restaurant industry has actually added jobs at a 1.7 percent annual rate, compared to the national economic growth of just 1 percent,” Riehle says. “The fact is, consumers are using restaurants more than they were a few years ago.”
While Riehle says 2011 has been the best employment environment for the industry in the past four years, he describes growth for 2012 as modest.
He also talks in the episode of how one additional job creates a chain reaction within the supply and supporting industries.
“[The restaurant industry] has become an employment juggernaut within the national infrastructure,” Riehle says.
With this in mind, Safstrom talks about ProStart. ProStart trains high school students in industry-driven classrooms, creating a curriruclum based around restaurant and hospitality management and the culinary arts. It engages 90,000 students in 47 states, as well as at military base high schools throughout the world.
Riehle says job growth will accelerate as restaurant sales growth accelerates, making room for these up-and-coming restaurant industry professionals.
Safstrom closes the episode by discussing how the NRA advocates for ProStart at the federal and state levels, and how restaurants, especially quick-serves that have seen first-hand the benefits of ProStart graduates, can get involved in funding ProStart.
“It is an industry that, as we always say, has opportunities from the dish room to the board room,” Riehle says.