MDC Receives $3 Million Grant To Provide Upskill Training For Hotel Employees Affected By COVID-19

Miami’s hospitality industry has taken a big hit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tourists stopped visiting, hotels and beaches were closed for several months, and thousands of hospitality industry workers were left without a job. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Miami’s leisure and hospitality supersector lost 129,100 jobs during the past year ending in May. 

Now, Miami Dade College is doing what it can to help.

The College received $3 million in county funds from the federal CARES Act to provide professional training and financial relief to hotel employees who have been laid off or lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

This will be done through the Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program, which was approved on Aug. 4 by the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners. The program will admit up to 2,500 eligible hotel frontline employees and managers that come from large resort properties to small boutique hotels in Miami-Dade County.

“This is an outstanding opportunity that will help the unemployed hotel workers gain knowledge regarding current hospitality employment skills, COVID-19 training and the many opportunities that [MDC] has to enhance their skills to get better jobs in the industry,” said Chair and Executive Director of the Hospitality Institute Shelly Fano. 

The two-day virtual training sessions started on Aug. 24, lasting four hours each day. About 50 additional training sessions offered in English, Spanish and Creole will take place in the next couple of months via Blackboard. Participants can choose between a morning schedule (from 8 a.m. to noon) or an afternoon schedule (from 1 to 5 p.m.). 

Hotel workers will learn about employability skills, customer service, and hospitality in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic on the first day. The second day includes segments about resume writing, how to receive financial aid, and the possibility of continuing their education at MDC. 

Nine professors from MDC’s Hospitality Institute who have worked in the hospitality industry will teach the workshops. The content is divided into four modules: Motivational and Life Skills, Guest Service Excellence, COVID-19 and the Workplace, and Employability and Job Readiness. 

Frank Ferrara, who is a life coach at the Wolfson Campus Hospitality Institute, will teach hotel workers about mindfulness, communication skills and motivation techniques. The idea is to get them thinking about how to stay calm despite the pressure of external events like the pandemic.

“I hope the employees get a new look at the new normal in the hospitality industry and that this learning experience encourages them to continue learning at Miami Dade College,” Ferrara said.

The Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program will also provide $1,000 in compensation for participants who complete the training.

To be eligible for the program, hotel workers must reside in Miami-Dade County, prove that they were laid off due to the pandemic, and they must fill out an application. Once the process is completed, applicants who are selected will receive an email with the login link to Blackboard.