In May, 2015, the City of Los Angeles’ Workforce Development Board (WDB) awarded the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) an “Upskilling Initiative” Grant of $100,000, as part of their vision to prevent mass layoffs and also participate in President Obama’s UpSkill American Initiative, led by the White House and the Aspen Institute. This funding allowed UNITE HERE Local 11’s 162 workers at the Concourse Hotel at LAX to elevate the service they provide to guests as part of a $60 million modernization to a Hyatt Regency Hotel. The ESL classes are among the 60 classes that have already transpired in the hotel, made possible with the City’s financial support to the HTA and its partners, UNITE HERE Local 11 and the management from The Concourse Hotel.
On March 31, 2016, The Concourse Hotel held its first English as a Second Language (ESL) graduation consisting of 24 Room Attendants. The guest speakers included:
- Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin
- Charlie Woo, Chair of the Los Angeles City Workforce Development Board
- The Honorable Jan Perry, General Manager, City of Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department
- Gregg Irish, Executive Director, Los Angeles City Workforce Development Board
- Tom Walsh, President, UNITE HERE Local 11
- Adine Forman, Executive Director, HTA
- Maggie Mireles, Director of Operations, HTA
- Jeff Rostek, Managing Director, The Concourse Hotel at LAX
- Yohanys Castro, Director of Human Resources, The Concourse Hotel at LAX
The Hospitality Training Academy developed the trainings around Hyatt Regency standards to help hotel employees improve their services to guests, including ESL, culinary training, ServSafe training, TiPS Safe Alcohol Service, and customer service trainings.
Margarita Mendoza, a hotel employee since 2003, stated, “I am extremely grateful for my job at the Concourse Hotel. I feel blessed and beyond satisfied that I am finally learning English. I never attended school, or even sat in a classroom as a child. I did not know how to read or write well. Up until this class, I never participated in any learning experience.”
Gregg Irish, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles stated “A skilled, empowered workforce is crucial to the growth and success of our city, as our airports and surrounding hotels make critical first impressions on the millions of travelers that visit us each year.”