Congress asked to extend DREAM Act to ProStart

For those of us working in this industry, we are well aware of the fact that the restaurant industry is one of opportunity and careers. But just in case you were in doubt, here are some remarkable statistics to reinforce this fact, as reported by the National Restaurant Association:

  • 50% of Americans have worked for the restaurant industry.
  • 1 in 4 Americans had their very first job in a restaurant.
  • 80% of all restaurant owners got their start with entry-level jobs in restaurants.
  • In the past five years alone, women owners have increased by 28%, Hispanic owners by 30% and African American owners by 77% in our industry.
  • Restaurants employ more  minority managers than any other industry in the country.

Restaurants are the epitome of the American dream. But what is in store for the future of this industry and its leaders?

Take, for example, the above mentioned 80% of the nation’s restaurateurs who got their start with entry-level positions, along with the quarter of America’s total population that have their very first job in a restaurant. That group of workers, aged 16-24, represented nearly a quarter of the nation’s labor force just decades ago, but is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to make up just 13% by 2018.

This outlook prompted the National Restaurant Association last week to urge Congress to expand the DREAM Act of 2011 to include our industry’s ProStart program. The DREAM Act—Development Relief for Alien Minors—which would provide conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented immigrant students who graduate from U.S. high schools, currently does not cover students enrolled in our ProStart program.

In a letter to the subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, the National Restautant Association wrote, “ProStart is a nationwide, two-year program for high-school students that develop the best and brightest talent into our industry leaders of tomorrow. From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-world educational opportunities and builds practical skills. At a time when many high school graduates are unable to afford college or are incompatible for military service, programs such as ProStart can provide an alternative occupational solution that will allow these students to get significant training, find meaningful work, and achieve success.”

The Washington Restaurant Association supports the National Restaurant Association in its efforts, and also urges Congress to consider this recommendation. This would allow talented students from all backgrounds to participate in our industry, and pursue opportunities in the careers we provide.

The WRA Education Foundation works with OSPI to ensure ProStart is effectively administered and adequately funded, as well as provide scholarships for ProStart students in schools throughout the state. For the past several years, ProStart schools from Washington state have ranked among the top schools in the nation.

We hope to continue our ProStart success and that WRA members also support our endeavors by participating in Golf Fore! Education golf tournament this September. For more details.

ProStart changes lives.