Skip navigation
restaurant-apprentice-program-nraef.jpg dima_sidelnikov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The Department of Labor awarded the NRAEF a $9.2 million contract for its apprenticeship program

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation awarded $9.2 million contract from U.S. Department of Labor to expand apprenticeship program

The five-year contract supports the program’s growth in collaboration with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Multicultural Food and Hospitality Association

The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), the philanthropic arm of the National Restaurant Association, was awarded a five-year, $9.2 million contract from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the foundation’s apprenticeship program, the foundation announced on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to receive this funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to continue our work in the apprenticeship space,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “Apprenticeship provides both new and current restaurant and foodservice employees the opportunity to advance their careers and increase their income and ensures restaurant companies maintain a competitive advantage in today's challenging economy.”

The apprenticeship program’s goal is to train applicants to enter the restaurant and hospitality sector with skills to be successful. The contract will enable the foundation to expand the reach of applicants to “increase opportunities for underrepresented populations, including women, Veterans, persons currently or formerly incarcerated, youth and minorities” as well as leverage stakeholder resources to support the long-term sustainability of apprenticeship across the industry.

Run in partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and the Multicultural Food and Hospitality Association, the Hospitality-Sector Registered Apprenticeship program allows those who want to enter the industry from all backgrounds to “earn while you learn” and must have at least one pay raise during the term of the apprenticeship.

There are currently over 2,500 registered participants in the apprenticeship program across 48 states with a retention rate of 80% across employers.

The program has consistently seen strong retention rates across restaurants where graduates have been placed, and that hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry due to COVID-19, we are seeing a 94% retention rate among our apprentices with over 40 corporate employers, representing all segments of the industry, and we know that the skills they learn through the program will help them be one step ahead once travel resumes,” said Rosanna Maietta, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Foundation.

In August, NRAEF was awarded $5 million from the Department of Labor to continue its youth programs, ProStart, which trains high-school-aged kids, and Restaurant Ready, a partnership with community-based organizations to help young adults out of school with job training.

Hear Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF, speak today at 3:30 p.m. EDT during the kickoff of Restaurants Rise powered by MUFSO. Gifford will speak on a panel with leaders of other nonprofits in the foodservice industry, Share Our Strength and Children of Restaurant Employees. Register here.

Contact Holly at [email protected]

Find her on Twitter: @hollypetre

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.