On April 13, the Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation (WHAEF) hosted a hiring event in Pierce County. The event was held at the Hotel Murano in Tacoma, and there were 300 positions ready to be filled that day. Fifteen employers were present, most with open positions in multiple locations. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland gave the keynote speech, inspiring the prospective employees and highlighting why the hospitality industry is vital to the health of local economies. Several other elected officials were there, including Council member Conor McCarthy; former Council member Victoria Woodards, and Tacoma City Council candidate Meredith Neal. In her speech, Mayor Strickland emphasized Tacoma’s and the hospitality industry’s excellence in diversity.

Naja Hogander, WHAEF’s manager, had this to say about the event, “The folks I spoke with were excited and open to speaking with industry employers. There were individuals who expressed new interest in transferring their guest service skills to the hospitality sector.” She also spoke about how people could now see career path based upon their experience with guest service, and how even if they start at entry level, it is possible to move up the ranks quickly in the hospitality sector. There were also many trainees from the WHAEF’s hospitality training program, RISE, at the event. RISE gives hospitality training to low-income individuals, and helps them in removing barriers to employment.

The WHAEF and multiple community organizations were on hand at the event to help prospective employees with filling out applications.  They were there to assist them in finding solutions for problems that could prevent them from working, such as lack of childcare, transportation, and clothing. Many people came to the event thinking they didn’t have the job experience necessary to get hired, but when they learned they could walk out with a job that day, it gave them hope. The WHAEF was there to support them as they navigated the complicated waters of finding a job.

Sandra Miller, WHAEF’s workforce development manager, gave her take on the day’s activities. “There were several times I witnessed employers working with candidates to help them during the process and putting the job seekers at ease. They really worked with each individual to understand their skill sets and how they may integrate them onto their teams.”

At the end of the day, more than 100 of the open positions were filled. If a job seeker was not able to be hired that day, the WHAEF made sure there were resources available to help stabilize and assist them in moving toward being prepared for future employment opportunities. Our organization, by offering support services, takes the bigger picture into account when it comes to being job ready.

On May 5, the WHAEF will be hosting another of these hiring events at the Motif Hotel in Seattle. Whether you’re a hospitality business owner or someone looking for employment, this is the event for you!  Contact Roxanne Lomeli at 360.956.7279, ext. 141 or email roxannel@wahospitality.org for more information.

By Emily Hearn