It used to be that the waiter serving you in a Whistler restaurant might have a masters degree in psychology. Soon, the waiter serving you in a Whistler restaurant will be a certified journeyman in food and beverage service. Through the Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour, and the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s Training Trust Fund, 25 servers in Whistler are now going through the first food and beverage service apprenticeship program in the country. The pilot project is the first, and will be the model for, a whole range of professional apprenticeships in the tourism industry. "The goal is to raise standards and keep people in the hospitality industry," says the Chamber’s Bernie Lalor-Morton. A hospitality school, perhaps in Whistler but more likely integrated with an existing post-secondary institution, is part of the long-range plan. Lalor-Morton is working on getting the apprenticeship programs to count for credits at Vancouver Community College. Those credits may be applied toward a hospitality program at a community college or perhaps the University of Victoria’s new international hotel school. "The whole package gives a professionalism to the tourism industry," Lalor-Morton says. The food and beverage service program is part of a complete revamping of apprenticeship programs that the Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour (now Education, Skills and Training) has gone through in the last couple of years. Like any apprenticeship program, the food and beverage service apprenticeship includes a mixture of class time and on-the-job experience. Future apprentices will be required to do 1,200 hours of work to be certified, but the first 20-25 students now in the program have been fast-tracked; they are senior servers already so will only be required to complete the classroom portion of the program, pass two tests and undergo a final evaluation. Vancouver Community College will be delivering the in-class portion of the course, but in Whistler, rather than at a campus in Vancouver. "Our goal is that eventually everyone working here will have gone through the apprenticeship program," says Lalor-Morton. Local restaurants have been supportive of the program, sending some of their top servers. The next apprenticeship program Lalor-Morton is pushing for is line cooks.