NAPA – Napa Valley College’s hospitality program is coming into its third year this fall.

Hoping to be responsive to the community’s needs, Ian MacNeil, project coordinator for the program, partnered up with many industry entities to get ideas about what these prospective employers are looking for in new graduates.

The program began with 12 students and one class. Now, with more than 200 students having gone through the program, it is thriving.

The curriculum taught in NVC's program aims to reflect the needs of the hospitality industry.

An advisory board, made up of Napa Valley hospitality leaders and employers, shares a role in shaping and maintaining the program.

Students can either work toward a two year A.S. degree or one or two certificates offered.

“The challenge with this type of program is to help the students build their resumes and work on interviewing skills,” Mr. MacNeil said.

Courses include introduction to hospitality management; principles of hotel administration; hospitality law; food, beverage and restaurant management; and a marketing course with a focus on hospitality and tourism.

In addition to the advisory board, the hospitality program shares an employee search site with Santa Rosa Junior College’s Culinary Arts Department. Local businesses looking to hire in the hospitality industry can join the site, and all the applicants come from the two schools programs and are pre-screened by instructors.

“If an employer wants to partner with us and if we do our due diligence and make sure they know the students are prepared, we are serving the community and getting our students work,” Mr. MacNeil said. “It is what the community has asked us to do.”

Industry partners include Alkar Human Resources, Auberge Resorts, California Restaurant Association, Carneros Inn, Culinary Institute of America, Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Embassy Suites Hotel Napa Valley, Meritage Resort at Napa, Napa Valley Destination Council, Napa Downtown Association, Rubicon Estate, Rutherford Ranch, Santa Rosa Junior College and V. Sattui Winery, among others.

For Sonoma and Napa, Mr. MacNeil  said a lot depends on tourism and it is important to get an educational system that emphasizes people skills.

“Napa really has not had that before. It is fun when I walk into restaurants and hotels and everywhere I go, I see a former student."