ProStart, a career and technical education program focused on teaching culinary arts and restaurant management fundamentals to secondary school students, will now be available throughout the U.S. North Dakota marks the 50th state to offer the industry-derived, competency-based program for the 2015-2016 school year.

Available in nearly 1,700 high schools and career technical centers, ProStart reaches more than 118,000 students from a broad range of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program offers students a platform to discover and develop new interests and talents, and teaches not only culinary and restaurant management techniques and theory, but also employability skills including teamwork, professional behavior, time management, and communication that are hallmarks for achieving life-long career success.

“ProStart has a proven track record, and with this milestone, is one of the largest CTE programs of its kind, providing tangible career-readiness skills to high school students, and preparing them to enter the workforce or pursue higher education in support of their goals,” says Rob Gifford, executive vice president, strategic operations and philanthropy for the National Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

As the second-largest private sector employer in the nation’s economy, the restaurant and foodservice industry employs 14 million people and will need to fill 1.7 million new jobs in the next decade. ProStart’s goal is to connect industry to the classroom, interesting and directing young people to the careers available in the rapidly expanding restaurant and foodservice sector.

“The opportunities this program exposes students to are endless,” adds Gifford. “Whether they want to be a chef, a baker, a server, a manager, an accountant, a marketer or a business owner, the restaurant and foodservice industry has a place for them. ProStart is only the first in a series of doors that will be opened to young people who choose a rewarding restaurant or foodservice career.”

Recent research shows that 80 percent of ProStart students are engaged in class, 70 percent plan to pursue post-secondary education and one in four hope to own their own restaurant some day. In addition to participating in a hands-on and group-learning based curriculum, ProStart students have the opportunity to apply for high-value scholarships and to compete in state and national student team competitions. Additional connecting activities include work experience and the ability to earn industry-recognized credentials.  

ProStart is supported by industry, educators, school administrators, the NRAEF, and state restaurant associations in the U.S., Guam, and Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Europe and Asia.

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