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November 28, 2022

New Mexico college to offer service industry classes

New Mexico residents can take three content mastery certificate programs offered through New Mexico State University (NMSU) free of charge.

In an effort to fill gaps in the hospitality industry, Restart New Mexico is putting up funds to pay for programs in customer service, supervising and managing and food and beverage operations, KTSM reported.  All programs are online, and students are awarded a content mastery certificate from the university.

Carol Wight, CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, said the industry is seeing a large influx of employees with no hospitality experience, so basic customer service training is something they need.

“Some of the folks we’re hiring are from our industry, some are not,” she told The Center Square. “We usually do on-the-job training, but when restaurants now have 90% of their employees as brand new employees, I think this certificate program is being designed to make sure that they’re getting that training.”

The courses can be completed in 12 weeks, KTSM reported.  Essentials of Customer Service, the first course, covers training for hourly employees while the second, Customer Service Essentials for Supervisors and Managers, provides training for those in a leadership role.  The final course, Essentials of Food and Beverage Operations, addresses skills for all those involved in the service industry, including kitchen and wait staff.  Upon completion, students will also receive a New Mexico food handlers’ certification.

While the idea is good, Wight said she’s not sure how helpful this incentivized training will be at the moment.

“I think the biggest problem right now—and our members are mostly owners and operators—they’re so busy working shifts because they’re still very short staffed, I don’t think they have time to even pull the trigger on something like this,” she said. “Once everybody gets a little more settled I think it will be very helpful to the industry.”

Currently, staffing problems are still plaguing businesses, with many restaurants having to rethink their hours of operation.  And supply chain disruptions are only adding to the troubles.

“A lot of them can’t get the items they have on their menus,” Wight said. “They’re having to shop around and not use their regular suppliers because some of them can’t get chicken, some of them can’t get—it’s just a myriad of things.”

In speaking with a distributor, Wight found that they used to put 99.9% of a customer’s order on the truck, and now they’re very happy if they can deliver roughly 89% of the items ordered.

Piling onto that is inflation.

“Everything’s about 10-15% more expensive,” Wight said.

While the completion of a course comes with a badge, the three competency programs do not go toward any degree credits.

Wight pointed out another uncertainty about the offered training is that previous similar efforts have gone unnoticed.

“Over the years we’ve tried to put together training, and unless they’re mandated by the state, people don’t take advantage of them,” she said.

 She added, however, that she thinks it is a good use of CARES Act dollars and will prove helpful eventually.

This article was originally posted on New Mexico college to offer service industry classes