to research opportunities
in hospitality, tourism education
awards $38 million
for education advancement
(November 2008) More than 14,000 residents
in southeastern Indiana work in the tourism-hospitality sector of the
economy, according to recent research. A lack of educational opportunities
and research about available careers is about to be corrected, thanks
to a new project by tourism and hospitality leaders in the area.
As part of the $38 million Economic Opportunities 2015 project, also
known as EcO15, a $450,000 research project will study the career opportunities
in the hospitality-tourism economic cluster and help develop appropriate
training curriculum for schools and colleges in the area, according
to EcO15 regional coordinator Jeff Schroer.
We are going to focus on higher opportunities and develop a reasonable
educational pathway for people to invest in to get a higher return for
their investment, he said. We should have the assessment
with recommendations completed within six to 12 months, and then can
go from there to develop the career pathways training program.
The EcO15 Hospitality and Tourism Initiative was launched Sept. 30 at
the Madison, Ind., Ivy Tech Community College campus. Lt. Gov. Becky
Skillman, keynote speaker for the event, spoke of the tremendous
opportunity that lies within hospitality-tourism, an industry
accounts for $10 billion in annual state revenue and more than 260,000
Indianas tourism industry is thriving. Each year, our state
plays host to 62 million visitors, said Skillman, who oversees
the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. Along with the success
of our tourism industry comes new opportunities. With programs like
the Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015 initiative, we
are able to create an environment that helps foster job growth and economic
EcO15 is a southeastern Indiana 10-county initiative conceived by the
Heritage Fund the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County,
Ind. and funded with a $38 million grant from Lilly Endowment
Inc. Each countys community foundation is eligible for EcO15 grants
from Heritage Fund to develop and administer programs in their own county.
The goal is to connect the residents of the region to economic opportunity
through education by 2015. Already, leaders have worked to bring Advanced
Manufacturing Education into junior and senior high schools in all 10
counties as well as making this advanced training available to the local
Now hospitality-tourism workers throughout the region will be afforded
similar advanced training and education opportunities.
Tourism is the third largest industry in Indiana, said Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Linda Lytle.
We dont have a clear picture of how many jobs are still
available and what advancement potential is out there.
To put things into perspective, Schroer said there are about 38,000
residents in southeastern Indiana employed in the manufacturing sector
of the economy. There are about 14,000 area residents employed in health
care, and 14,000 in hospitality-tourism.
We have career pathways programs for the other industries, but
we just dont know enough about what tourism offers in terms of
career opportunities, he said. Weve got to give this
issue some needed attention. Its definitely worth the investment.
He said the regional study will include a review of all existing tourism
occupations, salary ranges, benefits, and current and future employment
demands. It will also explore strategic approaches to acquiring and
communicating career pathways and occupational opportunities. This study
will include recommendations for distributing the information collected
to employers, workers, and students from middle school to adult learners.
EcO15 plans to hire a hospitality and tourism coordinator for the region
who will promote the career opportunities this industry sector provides.
The coordinator also will work with EcO15 staff and other community
stakeholders to develop educational pathways and increase awareness
of the economic opportunities available.
Lytle said the hospitality-tourism sector includes convention and visitors
bureaus and county tourism offices, gambling boats, restaurants, retail
stores, hotels and state parks.
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