On any given day, check out the activity in the Hospitality Training Academy’s (HTA) Culinary Apprenticeship Program, and you will see cooks practicing their skills and running through the kitchen, preparing a variety of foods. Some of those in the HTA kitchen are people who have experienced some level of homelessness and/ or have been justice-involved. Every student, however, shares a determination and a drive to learn the culinary skills necessary for success in the hospitality industry. Although participants come into the program with many different levels of knowledge, soon they learn their way around the kitchen and become part of a supportive network, both personally and professionally.

HTA’s Culinary Apprenticeship Program is one of the many training programs that the Hospitality Training Academy runs to prepare low-income and marginalized individuals for jobs in the hospitality industry. HTA serves as the training arm of UNITE HERE Local 11, the hospitality workers union for Southern California and Arizona. One of HTA’s missions is to help people find career growth in the hospitality industry, providing union workers with training so they can constantly advance.

The HTA grew out of the Hospitality Diversity Task Force, a group founded in 2006 by leaders of industry, community, and labor to promote opportunities for African American workers in Los Angeles’ top hotels and food service companies. Today, the leadership behind the HTA is made up of a diverse group of hotel employers, labor, non-profit organizations, and other County and City agencies. The goal is to facilitate success in the workplace, increase guest satisfaction and make Southern California a more competitive destination. Partnerships formed through the academy allow potential employers to meet and interview the trainees during the program. Around 90% of Culinary Apprenticeship students have a job lined up before they graduate from the culinary program!

The HTA’s many programs include: Culinary for Cooks/ Prep Cooks, Food and Cocktail Servers, Bartenders, Baristas, Bussers, Dishwashers, Host/ Hostesses, Cashiers, Retail Sales, Housekeeping/ Guest Room Attendants, and Front of the Hotel/ Front Desk Training. If you, or someone you know, is interested in joining an HTA class, click here for a list of current programs.