Seeks hospitality industry input to strengthen workforce programs
October 4, 2016 (Cambridge, MD) – Dr. Clay Railey, Chesapeake College’s new Vice President for Workforce and Academic Programs, convened a roundtable of Dorchester County hospitality industry leaders at the Cambridge Center on September 27 to discuss the employment challenges facing businesses and non-profits on the Shore.
Joined by Vice President for Institutional Advancement Lucie Hughes, Railey pledged Chesapeake’s assistance to create partnerships in the community and strengthen the school’s curriculum to better address the critical need for skilled hospitality and culinary workers in one of the region’s fastest-growing industries.
“Chesapeake College is committed to helping students achieve their academic and career goals, while simultaneously working with members of the hospitality industry to create meaningful employment opportunities that fulfill critical workforce needs,” said Railey. “It’s vital that we hear the employers’ perspective so we can respond with the appropriate collaborations, courses and curricula to ensure that our students have the skills required to succeed in these positions.”
An Oxford resident, Dr. Railey returned to Chesapeake College in June, where he was previously employed as a professor from 1996 to 2007. He most recently served as Provost for Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pennsylvania and Dean of Arts and Humanities at Delaware County Community College in Media, Pennsylvania.
Hosted by the Dorchester Office of Tourism and Choptank Communications, Dr. Railey led a lively 90-minute conversation with representatives of the hospitality industry including: Randy Thompson, Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay; Amanda Bramble, Jimmie & Sook’s and Three Sixty at the River’s Edge; Ray Paterra, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge; Patrick Fanning, Cambridge Eateries; Mickey Love, Dorchester Center for the Arts; Jennifer Layton, Layton’s Chance Vineyards & Winery; and Ann Phillips, Dorchester Historical Society; Patrick Fanning, Cambridge Eateries; Bill Jarmon, Harriet Tubman Museum; Bill Christopher, Dorchester Chamber; Brandon Hesson, City of Cambridge; and Katie Clendaniel, Cambridge Main Street.
Hyatt Regency General Manager Randy Thompson, who started in the hotel industry as a dishwasher in high school and earned a hospitality degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, applauded Chesapeake for reaching out to the business community.
“With its rich history, Chesapeake culture, iconic seafood, and natural beauty, Dorchester offers visitors a wonderful experience,” said Thompson. “However, our challenge as one of the county’s biggest employers is finding a steady pool of skilled employees to meet the growing number of hospitality jobs in operations, building maintenance, food service, and spa technicians.”
The attendees stressed the need for cross training and collaboration between organizations to help employees - and prospective students – gain experience in the industry. Many expressed a need to develop awareness and interest by middle and high school students of career pathways in tourism industries.
“A thriving tourism industry creates tremendous employment and educational opportunities in our community” said Fenstermaker. “We want to partner with Chesapeake to help every employer and employee strengthen the visitor experience – and economic impact – as tourism advocates and Dorchester County brand ambassadors.”
Chesapeake has expanded marketing efforts to introduce students to emerging and high paying disciplines. In September, the college unveiled their 2016/2017 recruitment campaign and installed new exhibits featuring popular programs at the Wye Mills and Cambridge campuses.
“Our recruitment campaign highlights Chesapeake’s diverse range of degrees, certificates and classes including new programs in environmental science, emergency medicine and skilled trades,” said Hughes. “We are excited to expand our community partnerships as we prepare for the Center’s 40th Anniversary in 2017.”
The recruitment initiative features local residents who turned to Chesapeake for degree, dual enrollment, continuing education or transfer studies including: Chris Boettcher (Chester), Paramedic Training; Deanna-Ewing-Evans (Easton), Commercial Driver’s License; Shelby Glessner (Cambridge), Environmental Science; Dacia Nurse (Greensboro), Dental Certificate and Liberal Arts & Sciences; and, Deep Patel (Hurlock), General Education.
Glessner, a 2015 CSDC graduate, is a sophomore studying environmental science.