Preble Street Job Seekers Become "Rising Stars"

The first group of students to participate in Southern Maine Community College’s new Hospitality and Customer Service Rising Stars Academy has graduated with skills that are in high demand by the hospitality trade in Maine.

The academy, based on the South Portland campus, provided 96 hours of entry-level hospitality training to the unemployed and underemployed participants. Since completing the program all 10 students have been interviewed and several have been hired or offered paid internships.

"SMCC’s workforce training gives Mainers bright futures and provides Maine businesses with the skilled employees they need to remain competitive," said Ron Cantor, president of Southern Maine Community College.

The Rising Stars Academy was funded by a grant from the Maine Quality Centers program and was designed to support the efforts of the Portland Jobs Alliance. Academy training partners included the Maine Innkeepers Association, Portland Adult and Community Education, Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Preble Street Resource Center.

The academy introduced participants to the skills needed in the hospitality industry, with a particular emphasis on customer service from front desk to housekeeping and banquet and event operations to laundry services. Each student earned a Gold Class Customer Service Professional certification, ServSafe Food Handler certification and CPR & First Aid certification.

Several Portland-area hotels participated in the training, including providing guest speakers, giving tours of their properties and attending a candidate expo following the academy’s graduation ceremony.