Hospitality services program will connect students to local industry, jobs

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the leisure and hospitality field added more than 40,000 jobs last month. That growth is reassuring news for Arkansas State University.

The ASU-Newport Technical Center in Jonesboro will soon offer a hospitality services program, aiming to meet a growing need shown by local industry.

"Jonesboro is very blessed with a lot of restaurants," Linda Sharp said. "That seems to be our pastime, between eating and shopping, so we want to make sure that we have the skills that they need."

Sharp is the vice chancellor of the ASU-Newport campus in Jonesboro. She refers to "they" as employers, business owners now advising the school on its new hospitality services program.

"Several industry people wanted a program of this nature and approached us to help them with it," Sharp explained.

The vice chancellor says these employers will help shape the curriculum, so ASU students will learn specific skills about culinary arts or management through at least three programs of study.  Students will be able to pursue a one-semester certificate, a one-year technical certificate or an Associate's degree in Applied Science for culinary arts, customer service and hospitality.

"Our mission is to help people become educated to get a job and a career, and this fits in right along with that," Sharp said. "We're very excited to be able to offer the program on the Jonesboro campus."

The students will even get to learn in a new facility. The school plans to break ground on its hospitality building this summer, complete with an extensive kitchen and restaurant area.

"We'll also have a pretty high-tech science lab in it and an additional classroom for the instructional part of the hospitality services," Sharp noted.

The program will officially begin in Fall 2013, but Sharp has already gotten calls from people hoping to register.

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