YMCA Hospitality Sector Enhanced Language Training

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by Theresa Wojtasiewicz

I was a banker in my home country. When I came to Canada, I wanted to open my own business, a restaurant. I took the YMCA Hospitality Enhanced Language Program because it covered the whole hospitality sector. One of the courses I took was the kitchen lab, where we worked in a kitchen for three weeks, learning cooking techniques and how to use professional kitchen equipment. I also learned a lot from the guest speakers they had, like the HR person from the Sheraton Hotel. The language instruction helped me with my pronunciation and grammar. At the end of the course, I realized that there was a lot to learn about running my own restaurant here in Canada, but thanks to this program, I hope some day I will be able to do it!
– Oya Bicakci

Where would you find 35,000 hotel rooms, 8,000 restaurants, four professional sports teams, Canada’s largest convention centre, and many live theatres, museums, art galleries and places where music and other types of performances are held?

If you think that it would be impossible to find all that in one city, think again — all that and more can be found in Toronto.

The tourism and hospitality industry in Toronto is one of the largest employers of newcomers to Canada. The industry includes places to sleep (hotels and motels), food and beverage services (restaurants and bars), gaming (casinos and racetracks), attractions (like the CN Tower, for example), convention and trade centres, and tour operators.

There are many different kinds of jobs you can do in the hospitality industry. Some newcomers have worked in the hospitality industry in their country of origin and would like to continue working in the same industry here. Other newcomers in other areas of work might want to take what they know and use it in the hospitality industry.

The YMCA Hospitality Sector Enhanced Language Training is a program that began in February of this year. It was developed as a result of a plan by Citizenship Canada to help newcomers match their language skills to the kind of jobs they want to do. While there are other courses and programs for education about the hospitality sector run by hotels and schools, this program is specially for newcomers so that you can:

improve your language skills, especially the vocabulary used in the hospitality sector
understand how to work with others in your place of employment
learn how to present yourself when applying for work
identify and improve your skills and qualifications
prepare for any required certifications (food handling, for example)
The language skills training is the most important part of the program. You will first need to have completed level 5 of LINC. The YMCA program will then teach you how to improve your language skills to first get a job, and then what to do when working with others once you have a job. The program covers how to:

write a resume and cover letter
present yourself to a prospective employer
look for work, including how to market yourself
practice being interviewed
give and follow instructions
get along with others in the workplace (social as well as work-related communication)
get to know people in the industry so that they could tell you about job openings (networking)
In addition to the language skills part of the program, there are also courses in different areas of the hospitality sector. They include:

food handling, including kitchen labs
Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS – how to deal with dangerous materials that might be necessary in your job)
health and safety in the workplace
employment and workplace skills (such as how to settle disagreements with your co-workers)
Guest speakers may also come in from time to time to talk about the different jobs that are available in the hospitality sector. In the program just completed, guest speakers included the head of Human Resources from the Sheraton Hotel, a senior executive chef, and the director of education and training from the hotel and restaurant union.

The next course begins September 5th and runs until December 15th. Courses run five days per week, in the morning. Extra time is scheduled for all day workshops, or when there are guest speakers. Information about this program is available at LINC schools and ESL programs, and at settlement organizations. You can also visit www.ymcatoronto.org (look under Employment Services), or you can contact the instructor, Scott Cowan, directly at 416-928-3362 ext. 4049.

Learning how to make your language skills work for you will also help you become more confident about yourself and your abilities when you look for work in the hospitality sector.

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