Students from the Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind toured the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay today to find out if they could have a future in hotel management, culinary arts and other hospitality specialties.
At least 12 of the 35 students thought it would be a good career move to work in a luxurious hotel.
"It's better than fast food jobs," John Ficca, the program director for Hands On Education Services, Inc. "One student was going between mechanic and front desk clerk. But I think he wants to be a clerk now. He's good with people and trilingual: He speaks Spanish, English and American sign language."
Ficca's agency works with Hyatt hotels and the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Division of Blind Services, training people with disabilities to prepare them for a career in the hospitality industry.
The students - three were from the Tampa Bay area - visited the hotel at 2900 Bayport Drive. They were treated to a gourmet lunch by the Grand Hyatt's executive chef, then toured various departments, Ficca said.
"It's a hands-on education," Ficca said. "It's reality-based training."
Although students from the St. Augustine school take the field trip to Tampa once a year, Ficca's agency offers training every two weeks for people with learning and physical disabilities. Dozens of graduates from the Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind have enrolled in the two-week training program in the past, he said.
Trainees are considered temporary Hyatt employees during the program. They are given a hotel room and are paid as they train. Graduates of the program usually get hired at hotels and resorts and work in the kitchen, banquet rooms, front desk and other departments, Ficca said.
Hands On Educational Services was founded in Tampa in 1998 and has since expanded to Hyatt hotels in Miami, Sarasota, Washington D.C. and Texas.
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