By Anthony Anton, president and CEO of the Washington Hospitality Association

I find it fascinating that we’re in a time when we have regulatory change, technology change, trend change and generational change – heck, we’ve even got change with change to a world where we’re going cashless. What hasn’t changed is that our members have said (on two membership surveys in a row) that our most important issue is finding good employees.

I think it’s exciting that we have an opportunity, in 2019, to work with the Washington State Legislature on one of our top priorities – workforce development. Focusing on employees this session meets your needs and it meets the right political climate.

This session, we’ll be looking to you and to the Legislature for creative solutions on getting people into the hospitality workforce, supporting their careers and improving social infrastructure to ensure our employees succeed.

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One of our goals this session is to find public partnerships or support to develop programs that train and strengthen our workforce.

How will we achieve this? We’ll educate state lawmakers about ProStart and the benefit it brings to students. We’ll continue to partner with lawmakers and public agencies for hospitality hiring events that connect members with job seekers and remove barriers to employment through all-encompassing resources.

We’ll support legislation and budget requests that benefit training programs and job pipelines within our industry. We’ll emphasize legislation that is a win for our employees, a win for our businesses and a win for Washington state’s economy.

Moving forward, hospitality is going to create, support, encourage and grow great team members. We’re going to communicate our industry’s career ladder to a generation that lives in a 24-hour world.

I am quite sure if you look through the past 20 years of association magazines, this might be the first time that our Legislative Preview issue has this kind of employee-focused tone.

There’s no doubt there’s a lot of chaos and uncertainty in the industry right now. And for that matter, a lot of chaos in politics. But, through chaos comes opportunity.

It would be great if hospitality’s desire to help our workforce succeed brings everyone to the table to work on solutions and builds trust with each other.

If you have ideas on the needs of your workforce, or ideas for how to support people getting into the workforce (veterans, people who are looking for new passions, teens, etc.), now’s the time to bring them forward. Reach out to us and share ideas: or 360-956-7279.

If you see your team members facing hurdles, help us identify those hurdles so we can talk to the Legislature with an open mind and a desire for solutions to help our workforce while we’re reinventing our business model.

It’s exciting that one of our top legislative priorities is not ourselves, but advancing our teams. We want to attract, retain and inspire a workforce of the future, and knowing that our industry believes in our employees is a positive step.