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HospitalityMaine is laser focused on the number one issue facing our members – a capable and reliable workforce. With unemployment at record low levels, combined with the unenviable position as the oldest state in the nation, Maine’s hospitality industry’s growth and sustainability is severely threatened by a lack of employees. While we rely on foreign temporary employees, commonly known as H2B and J1 visa workers, to take on some of the seasonal workload, this is by no means a solution. Program caps set by the federal government and the red tape involved in securing this staff making this a very difficult process. Not only is the program’s future unreliable, but the costs to businesses are far higher than most expect.
The long term solution is to change the negative perceptions and old narratives about the hospitality industry. We are engaged in educating the public, educational institutions and policymakers on the excellent opportunities our industry presents to young people, as well as disadvantaged populations. Our goal is to encourage more Maine people to choose the industry not just for a job, but for a career.
Our newly announced HospitalityMaine Apprenticeship Program will allow us to ‘home grow’ our hospitality workforce for the future. In a ground-breaking collaboration with the Maine Department of Labor and the Maine Community College System we have created a Work While You Learn program that combines a full time job, with scheduled raises, that results in a certificate in either culinary arts or hospitality services.