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Partnering with business
MUSD hopes to collaborate with Great Wolf
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Roger Goatcher, as an educator, sees the hundreds of part-time jobs Great Wolf Resort would create if they locate in Manteca as a boon for students.
While some pooh-pooh the importance of part-time employment — Great Wolf estimates roughly 55 percent of the 500 year-round jobs from the overall annual payroll of nearly $20 million they’d create in Manteca would be part-time positions — the Manteca Unified deputy superintendent sees them as the first step on employment or career paths.
“Entry level, part-time jobs are important,” Goatcher said.
He notes for some they provide a way to go to college without going into debt.  For others they can be the first step toward full-time and coveted head-of-household jobs in the growing leisure, hospitality, and food service industries. And for those whose goal is employment in other fields, it provides a way to hone soft skills — being prompt, working as a team, effective interacting with customers, and a host of other attributes that strengthens their employability.
It is why District Superintendent Jason Messer is looking forward to the possibility of building relationships with Great Wolf to develop possible internships with Be.Tech students along with other culinary programs in Manteca Unified high schools.
If such a relationship does develop, it would fit into the Manteca Unified strategy of preparing students for the changing workforce whether it is in its own backyard or the job-rich Bay Area. Messer notes just 20 percent of the district’s high school graduates — typical for most California public high schools — go directly to four-year colleges. At the same time, Manteca Unified graduates just like their peers elsewhere in the state that go to community colleges, have a high number that don’t complete two-year programs primarily because they aren’t focused on a specific path. That reality is the driving force behind a concerted effort to make Manteca Unified graduates employable when they graduate as well as help them plug into vocational education paths at Delta College and elsewhere.
The vocational charter high school known as Be.Tech Academy that operates at the district office complex as well as a slew of other vocational education efforts ranging from the Regional Occupation Program and Career Training Education to on-campus vocational offerings is continuing to be made more robust and altered to reflect the changing job market.
It is why the district is also working on efforts to develop a program aimed at tapping into the burgeoning distribution center employment sector.
“It makes sense to give our students a step up on the competition when they graduate and go to apply for jobs,” Messer said.
The culinary programs, as an example, not only provide hands-on experience from preparing food to running an actual restaurant but they also make sure students secure required health department certification that makes them employable for entry level jobs.
Messer noted things such as practical experience and having all of the needed certification to work in a field — whether it is food service or welding — gives students an edge when they go to enter the workforce.
 Be.Tech’s culinary arts program allows students to participate in a variety of career education opportunities including internships, career exploration, as well as café and catering operations.
Students are required to put in a minimum of 50 career service hours per semester — a benchmark most exceed significantly— at the junior and senior level. Many of the Be.Cuisine students are already employed at such local establishments as Fagundes, Mangy Moose, Sizzler, In-and-Out Burger, and the River Mill.
Local food service concerns also partner with the district to offer 40-hour, non-paid work experience opportunities. The list includes Fagundes, Mangy Moose, Iron Horse Deli, Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory, Mamas and the Tapas, Country Skillet, Seoul So Dubu, St. Mary’s Dining Hall, Tony & Mrs. K’s, and Manteca Unified nutritional sites. Students gain theory and practical knowledge through the National Restaurant Association curriculum that’s dubbed Pro Start. There are two levels designed to prepare students for careers in hospitality and food service.
Students gain practical hands on skills for careers in over 50 competency areas including safety and sanitation, knife skills, cooking methods, and food service management. Be.Cuisine is articulated with Delta College for the introduction to food safety and sanitation course. Be.Cuisine students can also participate in a “Shadow a Delta College Student” day where they are paired with a Delta culinary or pastry student for a day. It gives high school students a firsthand look at the kind of program they might one day participate in at Delta College.
The internships also help students get a firm grasp of what Messer said is the No.1 thing employees have repeatedly told educators is lacking with many young job applicants — soft skills.
Soft skills run the gamut from being on time, proper dress and grooming, attitude, effective  interacting with others, knowing what now to do such as staying off your cell phone while working, and the ability to work with others as a time
Messer has noted in the past that employers — many from large firms and national concerns — have told educators repeatedly that the basic academic skills needed to hold a job are being addressed in schools but that the soft skills are often severely lacking.
As such, many often don’t make it past the interview stage even for entry level jobs.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email