MOUNT VERNON — Back in November, Ohio voters passed an amendment to the state constitution which allows the construction of casinos in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo. The casinos could be in operation by 2012. That means more jobs and that means there will be a need for trained workers.
Since October the adult education department of the Knox County Career Center has been conducting research and planning programs which will meet that need. KCCC Superintendent Bernie Pachmayer, and adult education director Jane Marlow, traveled to Nevada to learn about the various casino-related job opportunities, and plan to institute training programs in hospitality, gaming and surveillance.
“There are hundreds of jobs in those three areas,” said Marlow. “And with casinos coming to Ohio, we’re taking the lead in preparing people for those jobs.”
“We like to be cutting edge and ahead of the crowd,” Pachmayer said. “We like to be followed. We don’t want to be the followers.”
Hospitality, explained Marlow, could include topics such as reception, table linens and decorative ice sculptures,
“It could be taking care of the hotels, cleaning the rooms and that type of thing. Or, for a step up, it could be the manager or supervisor of people cleaning the rooms.”
Pachmayer said the gaming classes could start as early as late this fall, if all the pieces fall into place.
“We believe we can get our equipment from Las Vegas,” she said. “It was offered to us when we were there, but we had no place to put it. We do now, with our nursing programs moving to the Yauger Road facility.”
The gaming course will focus on table games such as poker and baccarat, and is not just for individuals wanting to be a dealer. “People could take the gaming course if they just wanted to learn how to gamble,” said Pachmayer. “Each six-week section can be used as a stand alone or it can be used as a certification. Some people might just be curious how the game works. For example, I know craps is incredibly hard to learn. So, maybe they want to take a class on it. But, what we’re really supporting and promoting here is the whole program of gaming.”
Marlow added it will be possible for students to earn certification in each area. “Each game that they learn — if they learn blackjack, if they learn roulette — each one of those is certified. The graduates could take these certificates to an employer and say, ‘these are the table games I know.’”
We learned in Nevada that for [students] to be viable employees,” Pachmayer said, “they need to know them all. We heard there were 16 table games they would need to know for them to be considered as a casino employee. So, we plan on teaching them the games they need to know.”
Marlow said the KCCC program will include social responsibility.
“We do want to actually teach them how to help those that may need that help,” she elaborated. “The dealers are front line people. They are the ones who have to identify that there is a problem.”
Pachmayer agreed. “We would not just be teaching blackjack,” she explained. “We would be teaching them signs to look for, an obsessive compulsive gambler. So you have that whole behavioral science piece that goes with these tables.”
At least 7,000 jobs are expected to be available when the casinos open in two years, she continued.
“That’s why we want to get this in place now. So they’re trained. That’s why we want to give the edge on that transcript that shows they have the education.”
Marlow and Pachmayer have met with Central Ohio Technical College president Bonnie Coe to explore the possibility of KCCC gaming program graduates going on to COTC for casino management training.
“The possibility of developing an associate degree program that will complement their [KCCC] program,” Coe said, “is being explored state-wide. The two-year colleges are very aware of the job training opportunity that will be made available because of the casino initiative in Ohio. Certainly our college, when the time is right, will explore this possibility in more depth. We are approved to offer business management degrees. Under that there are different majors or options. Since the interest area at the two-year college level is overall casino management, what is being considered in Ohio is whether there should be a casino management major or option under business management. ... Statewide, there may be actually be a standardized curriculum. ... We’re paying close attention to what’s happening.”