A culinary apprenticeship program started at McCormick Place to prepare cooks as the hospitality sector marks its return. Some of the students were among those laid off from hospitality jobs at the start of pandemic-related shutdowns in March 2020. The apprenticeship program is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Apprenticeship Illinois program.
In early 2020, the institute was on the verge of launching the first culinary apprenticeship class. Everything came to a grinding halt because of the pandemic, as the hospitality industry and its workforce were hit hard as COVID-19 devastated the hospitality industry, leaving many without jobs. Now students hope the program can give them a second chance in their careers.
With this move, McCormick Place will be able to welcome visitors back with world-class culinary training. Besides, HIRE360, a nonprofit that connects underserved minority businesses and communities to jobs in the building trades, applied for the apprenticeship grant to recruit for and fund the training. Many such nonprofit organizations are funding these training programs to encourage chefs and bring back the hospitality sector to its past glory.