We are now halfway through the training process, and I am very encouraged by what these gentlemen have learned. We have practiced and studied to prepare for the ServSafe examination. In case you don't know, ServSafe is the national certification program for food safety. There are a lot more rules that go into keeping people safe and healthy than one would think.
We have also practiced kitchen and culinary skills - including safe knife handling and proper cutting, slicing, dicing and etc. techniques. By the end of the program, our students will have logged 80 hours of practice, study and class time with us.
As we begin the second half of the program, we are discussing more and more the opportunities for employment which will hopefully present themselves. These guys have worked hard, and a job would be tremendous reward for their efforts.
I have pondered the employment situation and options quite extensively. I wish we could form a network of employers who were willing to think creatively in terms of employing people with disabilities. I can't help wondering if there is a way we can flex hours, and employees in order to accommodate a variety of individuals. I see so many "help wanted" signs in the windows of food establishments, and I hear about the high turnover rate among employees. I wonder if we took a more people-centered approach to working with individuals in entry level positions, if we might be able to address that high turnover rate.
I relish opportunities to discuss these things with those who are actually working in the industry, and have the opportunity to hire and fire. It would be so incredible to see 180 graduates be a positive part of a solution to that issue. I think, if we had people represented from all sides of the food industry, we could potentially come up with some creative ways to meet everyone's needs.
Wouldn't it be awesome to come together as a community and show the rest of the world how we celebrate everyone, and how we cooperatively tackled and took care of two large issues at once - the unemployment rate for people with disabilities, and the high turnover rate in the food service industry?
I know there has to be a way - and I am working hard to find it!