Mid-State and partners celebrate first completers of Culinary Foundations certificate
Mid-State Technical College and supporting partners recognized the achievements of the College’s first Culinary Foundations certificate completers in a Feb. 15 recognition ceremony at the Wisconsin Rapids Campus Gourmet Café. Five completers were joined by their family and friends in the celebration: Max Bell, Jared Craig, Angela Kolb, Tawnya Penyak and Michael Tennessen.
Each of the students was able to complete the program in the fall 2022 term with no out-of-pocket tuition costs. Student tuition was provided by Visit Rome WI through their State of Wisconsin Destination Marketing Organizations Grant Award, while additional student support was provided by the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (NCWWDB) and Forward Service Corporation to assist with transportation, paid culinary internships and job placement.
“We are so proud of our students for their accomplishments and take every opportunity we can to recognize them for the hard work and dedication it takes to complete an important part of their educational journey,” said Dr. Missy Skurzewski-Servant, dean of Business & Information Technology. “Mid-State is also thankful for the partnerships we continue to strengthen with district businesses who are eager to support student learning and help us grow the pipeline of culinarians in central Wisconsin.”
Mid-State launched the Culinary Foundations certificate in fall 2022 due to an increase in demand for cooks and chefs in the central Wisconsin community. The program includes the Servsafe® Manager Industry Certification, and the 11 credits earned will apply toward Mid-State's Culinary Arts associate degree for students who choose to continue their education.
“The Visit Rome organization recognizes that a vibrant workforce is vital for tourism to thrive in the Rome area, and Mid-State’s Culinary Foundations program helps to address one of our area’s top workforce challenges,” said Lisa Kubis, executive director of Visit Rome WI.
“Our food service establishments are confronted with employee shortages not uncommon throughout the state and even the country, and we understand the importance of investing in programs that will help area businesses and organizations find qualified workers to fill those gaps and ensure a healthy regional economy,” Kubis added.
Beyond its financial support of this first group of completers, Visit Rome WI Board Treasurer Will Beckstrom also announced at the event a commitment of $100K in 2023 to continue workforce development efforts in the community.
According to Elsa Duranceau, Worker Advancement Initiative Grant coordinator for NCWWDB, tourism in the north central region was hit hard by the pandemic.
“Business owners in the industry are challenged to bring back their resorts, hotels and restaurants to pre-pandemic levels, and some establishments closed completely due to losing their workforce,” Duranceau said. “The mission of the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (NCWWDB) is to cultivate a skilled and competitive workforce that meets the demands of employers in the region, and we are grateful to the State Department of Workforce Development for allowing us the opportunity to serve the career seekers and employers in the tourism industry with the Worker Advancement Initiative (WAI) grant, a project funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.”
The WAI’s subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers have been vital to helping the NCWWDB achieve its mission, allowing the organization to provide incentives for attending and completing training, among other support services for individuals, said Duranceau. These “extra” supportive services provide a bit of financial relief for students and have not always been possible through the traditional employment and training programs offered by NCWWDB.
Duranceau notes that the pandemic has brought opportunities along with the obvious difficulties. “We haven’t had this type of flexibility under our typical workforce development programs in the past, and we are taking the opportunity to make the greatest positive impact that we can in our communities,” she said.
Mid-State’s Culinary Foundations certificate can be completed in one semester. All of the current certificate completers plan to continue in the Culinary Arts associate in applied science program. Learn about Mid-State’s certificate and degree programs at mstc.edu/programs.