Between mounting student debt and a job market that's still bleak, any positive news about jobs travels fast. That may be one reason students are filling up on education in the kitchen.
Pima Community College's Culinary Arts program has doubled its enrollment over the past two years, according to Nina Corson, the PCC Desert Vista Campus academic dean. Corson says that growth is a sign of what jobs are available in our community and across the country.
There is pressure in the kitchen, but it is nothing compared to the pressure of scraping by without a job.
"I didn't have a job," Damien Horrocks, a PCC culinary student said. "I wanted to pursue what I wanted to do and I didn't want to waste time doing anything else."
Horrocks is part of a growing number of students enrolled in the college's culinary arts program. Today, students made breakfast at an event meant to tighten the relationship between hospitality industry employers and culinary students in Pima County.
"The culinary industry is growing," Corson said. "We're expecting seven percent growth in the culinary industry in Pima County over the next five years."
With growth like that, Corson says it is no surprise the culinary arts program has doubled in size in just two years. Like most things, hospitality also was negatively affected during the economic downturn, but "People are always going to eat and there's always going to be restaurants," Horrocks said.
That is one reason educators at PCC say the restaurant industry wasn't hit as hard as some others. Now, the educational side of the trade is growing, too. With more students leaving college with debt than ever before, vocational training, like culinary arts, has its advantages.
"I didn't want to pull out student loans and have to pay those back, not guaranteed to even get a job after I get out of college," Bruce Wayne Hodges, a PCC culinary arts student said. And while there is no guarantee, there is a promising outlook in our community, and beyond. The National Restaurant Association says restaurants have added 200,000 jobs in the past six months and 560,000 since the economic recovery began two years ago.
For information on culinary arts programs in our community, visit the following links:
PIMA COMMUNITY COLLEGE
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