Teach the Need helping students find service industry jobs

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- In this economy, many teenagers are finding it hard to find a job, especially competing against people with twice their experience.

That's why nearly 60 students from local high schools learned the ins and outs of the Charleston Grill restaurant at the Charleston Place hotel Monday, taking advantage of an opportunity that for these students doesn't come often on-the-job training.

It's all a part of a program called Teach the Need, a program that partners with local restaurants to teach students food hospitality skills.

"We are giving our students a course that is going to prepare them for work in the front of the house in the restaurant industry and beyond," said Mickey Bakst, one of the program organizers.

Even if students aren't interested in a career in the food industry, school board member Michael Miller says they are learning skills that will help them along the way.

"For some kids that are going to go to college, this would be a way that they could pay for college,"he said. "For those kids who need a job day one after they graduate high school, or even before they graduate high school, this gives them an opportunity."

And students like Margaret Wiwuga plans to do just that: use this program as a tool to help her reach a bigger goal.

"I hope to work this summer so I can have some cash when I go to college," she said.

A senior at North Charleston High school, Wiwuga says after she graduates she wants to go to Harvard and become a heart surgeon.

And it's big dreams like Wiwuga's that makes program organizers say they need more restaurants to get involved.

"We need people who are interested in hiring these great young kids for their places of employment," said Mickey Bakst, Charleston Grill's general manager.

So far, cofounders Miller and Bakst have already helped 25 students find jobs, but encouraged other businesses to join them.

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