Signature '18: Unleashing Potential
Dawn Sweeney opened Signature '18 with praise for the industry. As the nation's second-largest employment sector, with 15 million employees, she said, "Restaurants provide fundamental skills for careers and for life," adding that "people are our greatest asset."
Sweeney announced the Association's new ServSafe Workplace
training platform, designed to create and sustain a positive work environment. She also spoke about ServSuccess, a new training program launching soon, that will offer three certification options to train and develop high-potential employees.
In pointed remarks about how the international economic system has changed, Condoleezza Rice noted that the answer to today's crisis is for the U.S. to build a more confident country at home and then go out and solve problems in the world.
Focusing on education as one powerful solution, Rice noted that America "can't have 18-year-olds who don't have a skill and I know your industry provides those skills."
Rice said she's confident that the U.S. will, in fact, regain its confidence. She believes that it will take putting our expertise in technology and innovation, as well as our educational system, to use in leveling the playing field for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or income level. "The crisis of K through 12 education is the greatest security crisis in the United States today," she said.
In the question-and-answer segment, Sweeney asked about the state of immigration. Rice related that one of her biggest regrets is that the George W. Bush administration was unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would have included both clear border protection and a path to citizenship for successful immigrants already in the country. Today, she said, "We need a more humane conversation about those who just want to better themselves."
Rice also challenged the restaurant industry when she spoke about middle-aged people who are not trained in using digital tools. "Before you automate people out of the workforce, you should think about how to retrain them," she said.