Should Waiters Require Professional Training?

Amid the Great Recession, the so-called Generation Debt is seeing lawyers graduate without job prospects, and the onetime masters of the universe on Wall Street reaching out to the government of New York City for employment help. Indeed, with the rise of the developing world, the millennial generation may be the one that witnesses America's conversion into a service economy.

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Mindful of that potentially permanent transformation, authorities of the service industry -- Tim and Nina Zagat of restaurant guide fame -- have begun a push to take our service jobs more seriously. And they want to start with waiters and waitresses. The Zagats, as they announced in an essay written for the Huffington Post, think it's high time that America offers formal training for future waiters and waitresses.

As the husband and wife team point out, "in the U.S., most service jobs aren't considered long-term careers and there is very little professional training for them. Take front of the house restaurant jobs, for example. Although they number in the millions and can offer a good living, the public generally gives these occupations little respect."

The drive to formalize training for waiters and waitresses is all the more pressing when considering the sector's performance, the Zagats say. According to their surveys, 67 percent of diners say service is the most irritating aspect of dining out, even above price.

Sound crazy? Indeed, most people become waiters so they can pay the bills while they train for another field. But to counter the counter-intuitiveness of professionally trained waiters, the Zagats also point out that by 2018, the service sector is expected to have 4 million new jobs. And so why not promote training for one of the few industries that is almost a surefire bet to be growing over the next decade?

Yet the campaign has garnered a raised eyebrow on the blogosphere. The New York City blog Gothamist, which often comments on the latest goings-on at restaurants, follows up the argument that culinary schools are worthless by outlining a potential course catalogue from a Waiters College run by Zagats. The courses are mentioned along with descriptions:

Candle Lighting 310, Striking The Match Away From Your Body

Tray Handling 101, Holding One Tray

Tray Handling 215, Holding Two Trays

Tray Handling 330, Holding Two Trays And Scratching That Itch On Your Nose

Eye Contact, 250, Firmly Telling A Customer You Do Not Serve Nachos

Scraping Food 400, One Bite Of That Uneaten Quiche Won't Kill You

Sleeping With Coworkers, Seminar, Asking For That Shampoo That Kills Crabs

Imbibing On The Floor, Seminar, Art Of Shallow Breaths When Talking To Management

Maintaining Sanity On The Floor, Seminar, Understanding And Not Murdering Customers Who Drink Decaf Macchiatos



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Filed under: Employment News
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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