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DRA offers free restaurant industry training

Katie Tabeling

The Delaware Restaurant Association (DRA) has launched a free 10-course training to anyone looking to upskill, retrain or start a career in the hospitality industry.

Courses include industry-recognized training courses like ServSafe’s food protection manager, sexual harassment prevention and understanding bias classes; the University of Delaware HR manager course; and the DRA’s own alcohol service training. As of Feb. 1, anyone residing in Delaware or working in a Delaware restaurant is eligible to register for the free training.


The program has the potential to offer industry-recognized credentials and set people up to realize their higher earning potential, DRA Executive Director Carrie Leishman said. The state’s restaurant industry has lost $1 billion in sales since March 2020, and Leishman estimates the sector is still down 20% of its workforce from last year.

“Some of these courses are required by the state and can cost $180 per course typically, but there’s also new courses that can help someone who’s looking to move up,” Leishman told Delaware Business Times. “We’re seeing a rise in people from our industry take advantage of the program because their certifications have expired, and the hope is we see other people who may be underemployed from cut hours take advantage of the next round.”

This is the second round of training programs since December, when the DRA offered courses through Forward Delaware, the state’s initiative to train residents who are unemployed or underemployed. Gov. John Carney signed an executive order in October to allocate $10 million of the state’s allotment of federal CARES funding for the rapid retraining initiative.

The state lost 74,700 jobs at the height of the pandemic, with the restaurant industry hit the hardest, losing about two-thirds of its workforce. The number of restaurant workers has fluctuated with state-imposed restrictions and the return of colder weather.

Other Forward Delaware partners include the University of Delaware, The Food Bank of Delaware, Code Differently, Zip Code Wilmington, Tech Elevator, Wilmington University, several vo-tech schools and The Precisionists.

In December, the DRA offered training to its statewide membership in the first round of the program. To date, 324 individuals in Delaware have received 636 training courses. Leishman expects that the DRA is estimated to provide over 5,300 training courses by this summer.

“We like to say we’re the industry that welcomes everyone, from GED to Ph.D. It’s almost an antiquated thought these days to say you need a degree from college to succeed, but it is more valuable in some sectors than others,” Leishman said. “The restaurant industry is very flexible with onboarding and there’s multiple pathways to success.”

Those interested in registering for restaurant industry training can learn more at delawarerestaurant.org/freeindustrytraining For more information in applying to Forward Delaware’s training programs or to be connected to employees using the programs, visit forwarddelaware.com.

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