Developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), the ProStart program is a two-year curriculum designed to teach high school students the management skills needed for a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry.
Foodservice is one of the nation's fastest-growing industries, currently employing 11.7 million workers, and is expected to grow to 13.3 million employees by 2012, with many of those positions in management.
"There are so many different opportunities for young people in the restaurant and foodservice industry," said Ilene Lerseth, FACS teacher "The ProStart program will help us prepare students for those opportunities and establish a foundation for further learning whether the students immediately pursue foodservice careers or go on to hospitality management or culinary programs at the college level."
The ProStart program gives 11th- and 12th-grade students the chance to explore career opportunities and gain the skills needed to operate and manage a foodservice operation by pairing classroom learning with on-the-job experience. As part of the ProStart program, Vemillion High School will combine academic classroom work with the opportunity for students to participate in mentored internships at local restaurants.
During the internships, students get hands-on experience in different areas of foodservice. They work directly with industry professionals who serve as mentors to make sure the students are getting as much as possible out of the work experience and have the chance to practice what they learn in the classroom.
VHS is excited to partner with local businesses to offer student internships.
"We believe the young people will be able to get a realistic view of the industry and explore the many career opportunities open to them," said Andy Anderson, manager at Hy-Vee Deli.
The ProStart curriculum was developed by the NRAEF, with guidance from educators and representatives of the restaurant and foodservice industry and is currently being implemented by more than 1,000 schools in 46 states. After completing the course, students have the option of taking a national certification test and apply for scholarships from the NRAEF.