Restaurant Apprenticeships Help Attract and Retain Talent in Tough Labor Market

Washington, D.C. – November 14, 2022 – In the restaurant industry, where a person can still take an entry-level position and work their way to management and ownership, apprenticeship is proving to be a powerful and successful method of developing the talents of the workforce while creating long-term employment connections. During the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Apprenticeship Week, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) is celebrating the growth of industry apprenticeship and the potential it offers for the future of the industry workforce.

Chef in kitchen preparing dumplings with handheld burner

As a designated Apprenticeship Ambassador by the U.S. Department of Labor, the NRAEF is dedicated to creating apprenticeship opportunities in the restaurant industry though its Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC).

Restaurant apprenticeship is a win-win for employers as well as restaurant professionals. By combining on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction in key industry roles, apprenticeship provides employees with valuable skills and credentials. Operators benefit from employees who stay on the job longer and are ready for promotion into management-level roles sooner.

“Apprenticeship is a unique and timely solution to the challenges restaurant operators face in finding, keeping, and advancing the talented and diverse professionals in our industry. It’s ideal for restaurants because it merges the hands-on experience inherent in their daily operations with a course of study to invest in the long-term skill set of an employee,” said Rob Gifford, president of the NRAEF. “Together, we’re equipping restaurant professionals with the tools to build a career and take advantage of the opportunity available in the restaurant and hospitality industry.”

As a designated Apprenticeship Ambassador by the U.S. Department of Labor, the NRAEF is dedicated to creating apprenticeship opportunities in the restaurant industry through its Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC). Launched in 2021 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, RHLC provides 118 restaurant industry employer partners with accredited Line Cook, Kitchen Manager, and Restaurant Manager apprenticeship programs.

Nine out of 10 people in restaurant management roles started in entry level jobs, making apprenticeship an attractive path to career advancement and the higher wages that accompany a climb up the ladder. RHLC programs cost nothing to apprentices, offering career credentials that they can take to any future restaurant job without the price tag that often accompanies higher education. RHLC apprentices typically experience an average 14% pay raise during their course of study.

The center’s courses are developed according to the needs of individual restaurant employers and have an 80% retention rate for employees during the apprenticeship programs. After helping an employer develop its internal apprenticeship course, RHLC provides assistance across the life of the program and awards graduating apprentices with credentials.

Designed to address apprenticeship needs across a variety of career stages and circumstances, RHLC programs include:

For more on restaurant apprenticeship and the NRAEF’s Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) visit

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation:

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s (NRAEF) mission of service to the public is dedicated to enhancing the industry’s training and education, career development and community engagement efforts. The NRAEF and its programs work to Attract, Empower and Advance today’s and tomorrow’s restaurant and foodservice workforce. NRAEF programs include: ProStart® – a high-school career and technical education program; Restaurant Ready – partnering with community based organizations to provide “opportunity youth” with skills training and job opportunities; Military – helping military servicemen and women transition their skills to restaurant and foodservice careers; Scholarships – financial assistance for students pursuing restaurant, foodservice and hospitality degrees; and the Restaurant & Hospitality Leadership Center (RHLC) – accredited apprenticeship programs designed to build the careers of service professionals. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

Click here for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s 2021 Annual Impact Report. 


Hannah Oliver

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