Where I Started

Restaurants: Serving Up Opportunity for America’s Young People

  ·  Press Release, National Restaurant Association

(Washington, D.C.) As summer winds down and students head back to school, the National Restaurant Association is highlighting the restaurant industry’s role providing job opportunities to millions of young people across the country.

The National Restaurant Association’s “Where I Started” multi-media campaign, launching today, includes a series of profiles, social media and digital content, all housed at AmericaWorksHere.org/WhereIStarted.

Read our listicle: 7 TV shows that remind us restaurants make the best summer jobs (and throughout the school year)

“The restaurant industry trains America’s workforce, providing jobs that are valuable and flexible, and offer critical work experience that set young people on a path of advancement,” said Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO, National Restaurant Association.

At a time when the nation’s youth unemployment rate stands at more than 20 percent, the restaurant industry is serving a critical need as the largest employer of teens, providing job opportunities to 1.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 19.

The restaurant industry is proud to foster skills-building and support scholarship, Sweeney added.

“Our industry has its own educational program – ProStart – that last year reached more than 118,000 students at 1,700 high schools across 50 states,” she said. “ProStart teaches high school students skills that are useful for any industry, while also focusing on culinary techniques and restaurant management fundamentals.”

Did you know …

  • 1 in 4 restaurant employees are students. The industry provides employees with the flexibility that allows work to fit into their busy lives.
  • Restaurants are the largest employer of teens. 1.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 19 work in restaurants. That’s one-third of all working teenagers in the U.S.
  • 1 in 3 Americans’ first job is in a restaurant. Many young people who start in the restaurant industry also stay and advance in the restaurant industry. 71% of employees age 18 to 24 have landed a more lucrative job in the business after their first job.
  • Restaurants are expected to add 522,000 jobs this summer season, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 17th Annual Eating and Drinking Place Summer Employment Forecast. The projected 2015 gain would represent the third consecutive year in which restaurants add at least 500,000 jobs during the summer season.


Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 14 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry's largest trade show (NRA Show May 21-24, 2016, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids' menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.

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