Hospitality jobs are on the rise. One reason: demand is constant.
“We all have to eat,” said Chef Shawn Loving, chair of Schoolcraft Community College’s culinary arts department. “Cooking’s not going to end; it’s not a phase.”
Neither are the opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. Hospitality jobs – combined with retail – represented southeast Michigan’s largest job-growth cluster of 2014, according to the Workforce Intelligence Network. Workforce agencies and partner colleges reported that restaurants and related business are at the forefront of an economic boom, and Loving said opportunities to enter or launch a business have rarely been as strong.
“The market is absolutely awesome,” Loving said. “I’ve never seen this path so wide open for that mission.”
A product of Detroit public schools, Loving learned the fundamentals of his craft at Schoolcraft.
He graduated in 1991 and began a steady progression through some of the Detroit area’s best restaurants before spending time at Walt Disney’s Epcot Center and EuroDisney. Back home he opened Loving Spoonful in Farmington Hills, a proprietorship that lead to his service as personal chef to Detroit Pistons Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups.
“Culinary has always shown itself to be a stable career path as long as you have the patience to endure the challenges,” Loving said. “There are different sets of jobs out there today, whether at a gourmet restaurant or a concept places that are chain-driven. “
There is also, he said, a growing market for personal chefs – especially in an increasingly health-conscious society – and avenues toward independent ownership. A rise in students who are looking at a second career comes at what Loving said is a peak time. Small-business opportunities range from Detroit Kitchen Connect – a partnership between Eastern Market and Food Lab Detroit to get new vendors off the ground – to a host of “food truck” operations with specialty offerings.
“It’s appealing to people from an ownership standpoint,” Loving said. “You don’t need a lot of cash flow to make that happen.”
Loving said that Schoolcraft has varying one and two-year courses and will soon offer a bachelor’s program in culinary arts, to include more emphasis on nutrition and dietetics. It is and will be, Loving said, a prime time to enter or advance through the business of dining.
“Graduates are getting jobs and doing well overall,” Loving said. “The industry and students are much broader than ever in terms of age, more women, lots of second-career people. It’s not a bad path to go down. If you can find a niche and stay committed you’ll be okay.”