From our friends at the Aspen Institute.
"Given that there are livable wage jobs, given that there's tremendous revenue, and given that it is one of the largest industries... We cannot ignore or overlook the restaurant sector as one that we don't focus on for training or for workforce opportunities because there's tremendous potential there."
--Saru Jayaraman, Executive Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center-United at the March 7th event held by AspenWSI
As workforce development professionals look to connect people to training and jobs, they have often overlooked industries considered "low-skill, low-wage", such as the restaurant sector. Yet, there are good jobs in restaurants, with living wages and decent benefits, although admittedly these are not the majority. Importantly, however, employment in this industry is growing quickly--food services establishments added over 530,000 jobs in the past year. For better or worse, this industry is where many job-seekers will find work.
On March 7th, the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative hosted an event, From Fast Food to Fine Dining: A Discussion on Work in the Restaurant Industry, which explored the challenges faced by restaurant workers, and low-wage workers in general, as well as ideas for how jobs and opportunities in the sector could be improved. The event, was the first in a series of discussions AspenWSI is hosting this year in a series titled, Reinventing Low-Wage Work: Ideas That Can Work for Employees, Employers and the Economy. Wednesday's discussion featured Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Saru Jayaraman, Executive Director of ROC-United, Helen Neuborne, Director of Quality Employment at the Ford Foundation, John Schmitt, Senior Economist of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets and restaurateur. The discussion was moderated by Peter Edelman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University.
The videotaped recording from that event and a short document distributed at the event that provides an overview of the restaurant workforce in the U.S. are now available.
Please continue to visit our website at http://www.aspenwsi.org for related materials and information about upcoming discussions as part of the Reinventing Low-Wage Work: Ideas That Can Work for Employees, Employers and the Economy series. We are grateful to the Charles Steward Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation for their support of this series.