Chawla Hotels Inc. and Coahoma Community College are partnering to offer a workforce development training program that will benefit the Delta’s hospitality businesses.
On Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018, Chawla Hotels Inc. and Coahoma Community College announced the formation of Chawla Hospitality Academy, a program that will help Deltans develop the skill set needed for the hospitality field. This thriving industry is the fourth largest employer in Mississippi behind health care, manufacturing and education, according to Visit Mississippi’s recent Mississippi Economic Impact Report.
“It’s important that your workforce training goals in your community match the jobs that are available for these people to actually go to work with,” Shelley Cresswell Walker, Chawla Hotel’s director of Emerging Brands and Innovation, said during Wednesday’s press conference at Coahoma Community College Workforce Development Center.
To ensure the Delta’s workforce is qualified for the available jobs in the hospitality industry, Chawla Hospitality Academy will provide four weeks of training to develop front-line level employees, including front desk agents, housekeepers, quality control inspectors and technical maintenance personnel.
“Our focus is on hotel operations but we will also walk them through soft skills, customer service, basic hospitality and tourism, and basic computer. They will actually go to one of our hotels and do a site visit of our operations,” Walker said.
The last week of the academy, Walker said, will be focused on the job interview, from what to wear, what to say and how to create a resume.
“What good is it if we have a training program and then we haven’t prepared the student to be prepared for the job interview? So, the last week, we will actually do job-interviewing prep with them,” she said. “We will prepare them to fill out that application, to write the resume and make that training go full circle for these applicants.”
The program, according to Coahoma Community College Workforce Development Executive Director Steve Jossell, will be set up as if it were a job — not a class.
“If you don’t show up, you’re out of the class,” he said, noting the training will promote loyalty that will holistically prepare the individual to succeed from entry-level jobs to management.
At the end of the four weeks, the participants’ portfolios will be sent to Chawla Hotels.
“They won’t be guaranteed a job, but they will be guaranteed an interview, and that is solely based on their participation and performance in the class,” Jossell said.
Registration is open for the first class, which will begin Oct. 22. Those who are interested in participating in the free, four-week program can apply at their local WIN Job Center. Classes will be held in the evenings, from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The next class is tentatively set for January.
While the academy is geared toward front-line employees, Suresh Chawla, president of Chawla Hotels Inc., said the curriculum and training sets a path for hotel management opportunities, as well.
“We’re not just trying to go ahead and have a training center here so we can get people on the front line,” he said. “We want there to be progress.”
While the academy will hopefully benefit Chawla Hotels Inc. as well as the area casino hotels, Chawla, who today oversees the company with his brother Dinesh, said this is truly a dream of their father, V.K. Chawla.
“The workforce training component is something my father dreamed about,” Chawla said.
It wasn’t until 2015, though, that plans were put into motion to create the academy, with the help and aid of Munistrategies out of the Jackson area. Today, that dream has come to fruition.
“For years and years we talked about workforce education, how important it is for the public and private sector to partner and utilize the skill set on both sides. And this program is exactly that,” Chawla said, later adding, “We want to brand the Mississippi Delta as the Hospitality Education Capitol.”
Jossell agreed, saying individuals can start at Chawla Hospitality Academy and use it as a launch pad for their careers.
About Chawla Hotels Inc.
The Chawla family has been in the hospitality business in the Delta since 1989.
Today, Chawla Hotels Inc. is a growing and nationally recognized hotel development company based in the Mississippi Delta. It is the parent company of 19 hotels, including Hampton Inns, Holiday Inn Expresses, Comfort Inns and Rodeway Inns. Chawla Hotels is currently partnering with Trump Hotels to operate the Scion Hotel brand, their first four-star, full-service hotel. Chawla Hotels is also developing the first-ever Trump Hotel franchised American Idea hotels in several Mississippi cities.
Those who already have hospitality experience are encouraged to send resumes and letters of interest to [email protected].
About Coahoma Community College Workforce Development
The Coahoma Community College Workforce Development Center is committed to training for the future workforce. Working closely with the WIN Job Center and area businesses/industries, classes and curriculum are developed to provide short-term training for individuals seeking to enter the workforce or upgrade their skills.
The Workforce Development has previously assisted with and implemented workforce training for the hotel and restaurant industry to prepare Mississippi Delta’s workforce.
For more information, visit coahomacc.edu/programs-of-study/workforce/index.