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Better Know a Partner: Delaware North

Credential Engine works with partners large and small across the education and workforce spectrum. What brings us all together is a shared vision to build a transparent credential marketplace in order to bring the clear and comprehensive data students, workers, employers, educators, nonprofits, and policymakers need to make informed decisions about education and career pathways. Our Better Know a Partner series dives deeply into one partnership to reveal what challenges they’re facing in the current credential landscape and how they plan to be part of the solution.

About our Partner:

Delaware North is one of the largest privately held hospitality and food service companies in the world. Founded in 1915 and owned by the Jacobs family for more than 100 years, Delaware North has global operations at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos. Our 55,000 associates are dedicated to creating special experiences one guest at a time in serving more than a half-billion guests annually. Delaware North operates in the sports, travel hospitality, restaurant and catering, parks, resorts, gaming, and specialty retail industries and has annual revenue of more than $3 billion.

Today, we’re speaking with Stephen Eden, Director of the Culinary and Hospitality Council at Delaware North and one of our partners on the Retail and Hospitality Credentials Initiative, Steve is a member of our Retail and Hospitality Credentials Working Group that supports the initiative and provides guidance as the effort progresses.

Q: Why are credentials and credential data so critically linked to building a successful workforce for the future?

Credentials provide a benchmark for our associates to expand and develop in their technical skills and increase their competencies so that they can continue to grow as their careers progress. To support our associates, Delaware North promotes and funds certifications and provides a bonus incentive to employees for completion. We feel that this helps differentiate our company from the competition. The increase in skills and competencies that accompany the completion of a certification help to improve the quality of service we provide and the level to which we hold our associates accountable.

We are participating in Credential Engine’s Retail and Hospitality Credentials Initiative Working Group to support the effort and make our certification providers aware of this new way to share the meaning and value of the credentials they offer. We have been working with Credential Engine on performing outreach to certification bodies and inviting them to participate in the initiative so that employers and their employees are can get a better picture of the retail, restaurant, and hospitality credential marketplace.

Q: How do you see credentials impacting your bottom line as you grow your business?

An expected credential level of attainment helps us establish and maintain a level of excellence – a true differentiator from the competition. Consistency and discipline lend to a higher level of quality. Ultimately, promoting professional development by supporting credentialing helps attract talent and make us a company where people want to work. A few examples of credentials that we frequently use include the Certified Food & Beverage Executive (CFBE) by the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, Concession Manager Certification Program offered by the National Associations of Concessionaires, and the Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) through the National Association for Catering and Events.

Q: How does Delaware North approach career pathways within the company?

Career pathways for employees are critical for us. Delaware North is currently in the middle of a career framework project to better define job functions, requirements and the competencies necessary at all levels to be successful. We want to our associates to understand what is required to be successful from an individual standpoint and for the company beginning at the time of recruiting/hiring through ongoing development covering the life cycle of employment. Credentials play a role in helping our employees build new skills and advance within our company.

Q: How does Delaware North determine credential quality and value in the marketplace? HOw do you ensure that these credentials are meeting your needs?

The credentials that Delaware North uses tie very closely to our daily business operations. We thought it was important for the American Culinary Federation, one of our key providers, to participate in the Retail and Hospitality Credentials Initiative and include key data about their certifications in the Credential Registry. We frequently use three of their certifications – and we can see that they have now published data on their 16 credentials to the Registry. We look forward to seeing more data about those credentials so that we are informed about what they offer beyond the three that we are most familiar with. We have a number of other credentialing bodies that we’ve recommended to participate in the Registry so that we and other employers can have more data about what’s available in the marketplace.

This past summer, we were also a part of a pilot program with National Restaurant Association to put 100 of our associates through some their new certification programs.

We like these two programs because both organizations provide our associates with an opportunity to grow within their credential framework based on experience. We know it adds value and see it play out in new business discussions.

Q: How will credential data enable faster, better signaling between employers and students/workers?

Clear and comprehensive data strengthens our ability to find and attract talent (specifically through college recruiting) and offer more robust development experiences through internship programs and other employment opportunities. Having robust data about credentials available to us and other employers through the Credential Registry will improve our ability to search and compare what is currently offered in the marketplace. When we can better understand what’s available, we will be better able to identify gaps in curriculum.

Q: What does Delaware North hope to gain from participating in our national Retail and Hospitality Credentials Initiative?

We’re striving to be an industry leader. We’d like to develop a consistent and robust set of credentialed opportunities with information for comparison that will help us make educated decisions with our talent and business. The Credential Registry gives us the framework to make this happen. Other benefits include gathering information on a wider variety of credentials that we might not be aware of. And, it would help introduce us to other organizations that we would not have known about previously and present opportunities for partnerships.