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Academy Hopes to Help Address Disconnected Youth Problem

June 8, 2017 04:59 PM

Photo of Pete Snell congratulating students for finishing the Hospitality AcademyIt was a rainy, dreary day in the Golden Isles on Thursday, but for the five graduates of the Coastal Pines Technical College Hospitality Academy, June 6 marked a day to celebrate an important milestone in their careers. All five of the graduates of the pilot session of the academy received not only their certificates of completion, but also job offers from Sea Island Co.

The academy is run by Coastal Pines Technical College with support and funding from Sea Island Co. Students were trained in professionalism, punctuality and communication. Students also studied various fields in the hospitality industry such as customer service, housekeeping and concierge services.

“Programs like the Hospitality Academy program are designed primarily for adults who have barriers to entry-level employment,” said Pete Snell, the vice president of economic development at Coastal Pines, who directed the program. “Programs like this are designed to support employers, individuals and the community with regard for economic development.”

According to The Opportunity Index, approximately 24 percent of Glynn County residents ages 16-24 do not work and are not pursuing an education. This is called the disconnected youth rate, and in Glynn County it is 9 percent higher than the rest of Georgia and 11 percent higher than the national average.

“This is an unbelievable statistic,” Casey Lavin, the vice president of operations of Sea Island Co., said in a speech at the graduation. “We’ve got something we can shoot for here in the hospitality realm.”

Snell said the Hospitality Academy was designed to be part of the solution to the problem of unemployment in the area, as hospitality and tourism are the No. 1 employers in Glynn County.

Despite the success of the pilot session of the program, Snell said there are still barriers to addressing the issue of poverty in Glynn County.

“There is a huge disconnect with folks that are quite possibly feeling like they’re trapped in minimum wage jobs,” Snell said. “We had a lot of folks who unfortunately could not make that commitment to attend all 15 classes at the Hospitality Academy. Unfortunately the jobs that they currently have, minimum wage, would not allow them the flexibility to do that.”

Snell said it is difficult for programs such as the Hospitality Academy to reach out to disconnected youth. Snell and the technical college hopes to address this problem by creating a Move On When Ready program at local high schools. This Move On When Ready program would allow high school students to earn high school and college class credit while learning about the hospitality industry and gaining skills to serve them when they graduate, according to Snell. The program would send Coastal Pines instructors to high schools and will reimburse high school teachers who teach their courses.

“A large portion of (disconnected youth) typically have not had access to a career academy or a local technical college that is offering skilled programs in the high schools,” Snell said. “The hospitality industry is an option but not a very well-known option … the long term earning potential is high for the hospitality industry.”

Snell said the program will continue in the form of expanded sessions in the fall and spring and there are hopes to start the Move On When Ready program for high schoolers in the next few years.

“I see [the program] growing big time,” said Matthew Hodges a graduate of the academy. “I think it will be a great help for unemployment.”

Photo top left: Coastal Pines Technical College vice president of economic development Pete Snell, left , and Coastal Pines president Glenn Deibert, right, congratulate Patricia Parson, from left , Ansleigh Maze, Matthew Hodges, Brittany Herring, and Angela Fuller on being the fi rst students to complete the Coastal Pines Hospitality Academy program Tuesday during a ceremony at the Sea Island beach club. The fi ve-week program was a partnership with Sea Island and Coastal Pines.

Article by John Hammel with The Brunswick News.


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Telephone numbers are accessible to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing through the Georgia Relay by dialing 711 or 1-800-255-0056 from a TTY/TDD.

Los números de teléfono son accesibles a las personas que son sordos o con pérdida de la audición a través de Georgia Relay marcando 711 o 1-800-255-0056 de TTY/TDD.


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