business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

It is an article of faith around here that education makes one smarter, and continuing education - especially in an industry constantly challenged by change and requiring innovation - can be the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

If we all accept the notion that good enough no longer is good enough - and if you don't accept that premise, I'm worried for you - then one always has to be engaged in the act of learning.

I mention this because I got a note yesterday from pointing out that the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC), which in 2001 launched a certificate program "partnership with community colleges on the west coast to help people in our industry get the skills and education needed to become future leaders," has graduated its 5,000th person.

WAFC has long described itself as a "hub" for food industry education, and "one of its essential programs is an 8-course community college certificate program, the Retail Management Certificate. The intent is to support employees by building skills, fostering business acumen, and giving them the confidence to continue beyond the certificate to an associate degree. A recent survey by the WAFC found that over 50% of graduates moved on to get a bachelor’s degree or higher."

WAFC's Retail Management Certificate courses "are taught at local and national community colleges, are self-paced to accommodate a full-time worker’s schedule, and do not require a high school diploma. Therefore, it’s flexible for those wanting to learn and develop personally and professionally. Over 80% of program graduates surveyed said the program is correlated with a job promotion and/or salary progression."

Cherie Phipps, the Senior Director of the Retail Management Program, pointed to the "unwavering support of our food industry leaders and their dedicated HR teams, who use the RMC to grow future leaders in our industry," as being critical to achieving the 5,000-graduate milestone.

I'm just an education dilettante who appreciates the importance of a continuing education - in some ways, that's what the act of writing MNB daily since 2001 has been for me.  And so, I wanted to take a moment to recognize the WAFC's achievement - and the Eye-Opening achievements of the actual graduates and the companies that recognized their potential and acted on it.