The growth of the Bay Area hospitality market has sparked Skyline College to add a hospitality and tourism management program this fall through a grant awarded to the San Bruno community college.
In July 2013, the college received the Bay Region Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Learn and Earn grant through the State Chancellor’s Office of California Community Colleges Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Initiative. Employment in the hospitality and tourism sector is projected to create 210,000 new jobs in California by 2017, an increase of 11.8 percent according to the “Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy Sector Profile Fact Sheet” generated out of the state Chancellor’s Office of the California Community College System.
The college decided to bring on Andrea Vizenor, who worked in the hospitality industry for 10 years before teaching high school, to serve as the deputy sector navigator for the Bay Area region. The Bay region is defined as the area from Santa Rosa to Monterey.
“Building the program from scratch is exciting,” said Vizenor, who worked in management for Hyatt Hotels for 10 years. “We’re working really closely with industry partners to find the best strategy to prepare students for work. We want to be able to provide as many exciting opportunities as possible.”
The program would include stackable credentials, certificates and a CSU transfer program. Initially, educational tracks will be offered in the following areas: lodging/resort management; meeting and event management; food and beverage/restaurant management; and hospitality and tourism management. The program will begin with five classes this August including introduction to hospitality and tourism management; excellence in guest service; introduction to meeting, event and conference management; and hotel and resort management.
“Skyline College was interested in securing this grant in order to be a leader in the growing tourism industry which directly feeds the economy of the region,” said Sarah F. Perkins, vice president of Instruction at Skyline College in a statement.
With a proposed hotel expansion at San Francisco International Airport, the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for the San Francisco 49ers and a proposed entertainment center near Levi’s Stadium by former 49er Joe Montana, the timing for a program is perfect, said Vizenor.
“It’s a really exciting time today,” she said. “The timing is really ideal for the program. In San Mateo County, there’s no programs at the college level [for hospitality management].”
Tourism generated $106.4 billion in spending in California in 2012, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2011. During 2012, travel spending in California directly supported 917,000 jobs, up 2.8 percent from 2011, while earnings increase 4.9 percent to $32.3 billion, according to the Visit California website.
“It’s a really exciting time for the industry,” she said. “There are a lot of unique employment opportunities coming our way. At tech companies, there are many food services operations as well.”
Anne LeClair, president and CEO of the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, recommended Vizenor for the position. LeClair said she had the pleasure of seeing Vizenor in action while she was training 60 high school students per semester. Vizenor was outstanding at training and placing her students, LeClair said.
“I knew she already had relationships with numerous hotels in the area, so it was clear that they would trust her and would get involved in her new effort at Skyline,” LeClair wrote in an email. “She has tremendous enthusiasm for what she does, thinks out of the box and always says, ‘Let’s do it,’ rather than ‘Can we do it?’ She is excellent at communicating with students and hospitality professionals.”
Meanwhile, Vizenor is excited for the opportunity.
“The thing that’s most exciting is the timing is impeccable. It provides amazing career opportunity for students,” Vizenor said. “There is a plethora of opportunity once you get in the industry. You’re really the driver of your success and it’s nice to be able to share that with people.”
Additionally, Vizenor is working on a regional level to partner with industry heads, make sure community college programs are preparing students to meet the needs of the sector, organize professional development opportunities for community college faculty and high school teachers, facilitate activities with K-12 to build awareness, align programs and strengthen career pathway options for students and create opportunities for individuals to learn about career opportunities in the sector.
As the Skyline program continues to grow, additional stackable credentials and certificates will be offered in international tourism; and sustainability in food service and hospitality marketing.
The school is still currently hiring teachers for the program, but enrollment is now open for classes in the program.
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