Training Prepares Hospitality Workers

Future hotel and restaurant employees are getting some practical training in downtown Biloxi.

The Mississippi Hospitality Training Center is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. The federally funded program has helped dozens reach their goals of learning new skills and landing a job.

"Their tags always go to the bottom of the bed," explained Vicky Morris as she showed students the proper way to make a bed.

The art of bed making is an essential ingredient in housekeeper training. Andrea Jeffries just started the 50 hour course. She's hopeful it will lead to a career in the hospitality industry.

"Keep the training that I have and maybe I can move up into hotel management and everything. You never know what happens," Jeffries said.

Lavelle Keyes knows this training helped him land a job. He's about to finish the course and jump into the real world.

"I graduate today. And right now I've got a job starting tomorrow night at a janitorial place," Keyes said.

Housekeeping is taught, but there's a bigger emphasis on life skills. The training includes things like punctuality and appearance.

Betty Miller is executive director of the hospitality training center.

"We treat them here at the training as if they were on the real job. One casino told us we were stricter than they are. Well, that's okay. When they get out there they'll be able to keep the job," Miller said.

The training center decided to keep Carmella Clarke onboard after she finished the program. She now helps train others at the student-run "Cafe Anola."

One lesson on the learning menu is courtesy to customers.

"No matter who the person is, what they look like, how they treat you, you have to be courteous. No matter what. You can go in the back and scream. But you have to be courteous," Clark said.

Most who complete the program are rewarded with work. The hospitality training center has found jobs for 90 percent of its graduates.

Gulf Coast Business Services helps oversee the federally funded program. There's no tuition charge for students who meet eligibility requirements.

For more information about the hospitality training, contact Betty Miller at 432-1608.