The Ballad team is excited to announce the launch of the Foundations in Hospitality program for Indigenous youth! This enriching program is designed to prepare students (between the ages of 15 and 30) for a career in hospitality while building their employment readiness skills, industry relationships, and cultural connection.
With the recent impacts of COVID-19, the program launch has been well timed. “The hospitality industry has been hit hard by COVID-19 and as it rebounds it’s going to be a competitive market for job seekers. I’m excited that Ballad can support individuals to get back to work, and especially youth. This training program will provide participants with an advantage.” Said Sydney Schneider, Manager of Training and Operations at Ballad Group.
This is the first program that Ballad has offered solely for Indigenous youth. As such, the program team has taken an intentional approach to integrating Indigenous cultural protocols, guest speakers, content, and job placements with Indigenous-owned businesses. In addition, the program team is working closely with Indigenous Educator, Dr. Patricia Makokis, to ensure they integrate Indigenous ways of learning throughout the training.
“The first day was empowering. It was a real honor to have knowledge keepers Elder Eugene Makokis, Dr. Patricia Makokis and Lloyd Cardinal lead us through a grounding ceremony and talking circle. They set the foundation for the students and for the Ballad program team.” Said Schneider.
Students echoed this sentiment and were grateful for the opportunity to learn about traditional teachings from Elders on the opening day.
“I got a strong sense of pride as well as belonging right at the start. The first day was definitely the beginning of a brighter and happier life for me individually and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.” Said one student.
Ballad will be delivering the program six times over the next three years. The program cohorts are small, with six to seven students enrolling in the 11-week program. This size creates an intimate learning environment while abiding by the Government of Alberta COVID-19 protocols for academic institutions. As part of that protocol, students were provided with masks made by Goodfish Lake First Nation Business Corporation on their first day.
The program includes a combination of occupational skills training, employment readiness courses, and employment preparation skills. Throughout the in-class component guest speakers, including Indigenous hospitality business owners and leaders, will share their insight into the industry and provide students with an opportunity to build relationships.
“It’s important that we include Indigenous role models and hands-on learning experiences for the students. We’re actively building strong partnerships with Indigenous-owned hotels and businesses such as the River Cree Resort and Casino at Enoch Cree Nation, and Indigenous Tourism Alberta.” Said Schneider.
After the program students will be qualified to pursue a variety of front and back-of-house career opportunities such as front desk associate, concierge, hotel maintenance, or banquet server. But for many, the training program offers more than that. Students will walk away with new friends, industry connections, and the skills to achieve their career aspirations in hospitality.
“It will change my life when we are finished. I am very honored to be apart of (this) great experience. Truly grateful.” Said one student when describing their most memorable experience of the opening day.
How to Get Involved:
Employers: Ballad is currently building relationships with Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment partners across central Alberta. If you’re interested in providing a work placement opportunity for the students please get in touch.
Interested Youth: Visit the Foundations in Hospitality Training Program page on the Ballad website to register and learn more.