Convention bureau packages course for 8th graders
By Catherine Lackner
In what's being billed as a one-of-a-kind effort, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and Miami-Dade County Public Schools have collaborated in a curriculum program to recruit and prepare students for tourism jobs.
The video presentation, "Careers in the Visitor Industry," and the accompanying Visitor Industry Resource Guide target middle school students and their teachers, said William Talbert, bureau president and CEO.
"Middle school kids are beginning to make career decisions, and this campaign talks directly to them, showing them real people making real money," he said.
Mr. Talbert concedes many students may not seriously consider the visitor industry when reviewing career options. "We're working against high tech and other industry segments who are also seeking employees."
The campaign showcases seven visitor industry segments: the cruise lines, airlines, attractions, ground transportation, food and beverage operations, meeting venues and hotels.
"The visitor industry is our No. 1 employer. We have more than 6,500 full-time jobs in our new hotels alone in Greater Miami and that's just the hotels," Mr. Talbert said. "We need an educated, interested, service-oriented workforce that will make our guests more likely to return."
A highly trained workforce, he said, is also a plus in recruiting new tourist venues and other businesses to the area.
Produced at a cost of about $25,000, the program is projected to reach more than 80,000 middle school students. It requires written class work in addition to students viewing the video component and may be chosen as an elective subject.
"This is going to have a pretty direct impact," Mr. Talbert said. "It's the first time in the entire country, as far as I know, where we're going to kids and telling them, 'These are good jobs with good upward mobility. They pay good money and the industry wants you.' We're excited about this."
The convention bureau's communications and community relations committees were intensely involved in the program, Mr. Talbert said.
T. Willard "Tal" Fair, executive director of the Urban League of Greater Miami, "has really championed this program," Mr. Talbert said, as a way to get minority students involved in the visitor industry.
"Tal really had the fire in the belly for this project. We could not have pulled this off without a full vigorous partnership with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The payoff, we believe, is going to be better employees in our industry and that, in turn, supports more jobs."
Details: (305) 539-3040.