NRA Introduces Competency Model

Do you have trouble finding the right people to join your restaurant or new hires don’t always work out the way you thought they would? The National Restaurant Association (NRA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, set out to solve that problem and this week introduced the industry’s first-ever Food and Beverage Service Competency Model that will help identify the best potential employees and the skills needed to excel.


The model covers every position in the industry, including servers, food handlers, managers and senior level executives. It details the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for employees to move to the next level. “This model profiles the employability and technical skills essential to achieving life-long career success in the industry,” said Rob Gifford, executive vice president of strategic operations and philanthropy for the NRA and the NRA Educational Foundation. “Our objective was to create a state-of-the-art, sustainable model specific to the restaurant and foodservice sector, and chart the pathways to career success afforded by the industry.”

Building Blocks

The Food and Beverage Competency Model is comprised of six levels that highlight various skills needed to succeed. Tier 1, the bottom level of the building block model, highlights personal effectiveness competencies that include traits such as integrity, professionalism, dependability and reliability and motivation. Tier 2 highlights academic competencies needed, such as reading, writing, mathematics, critical and analytic thinking and communication. Tier 3 describes workplace competencies needed to excel, which include teamwork, customer focus, health and safety, problem-solving and decision-making.

Tier 4 describes industry-wide technical competencies needed, including food safety and sanitation, industry principles and concepts, service quality, and marketing and branding. Tier 5 highlights the skills necessary for: The culinary arts or back-of-the-house employment, which includes preparation, cooking and presentation of food; the service culture or front-of-the-house requires the skills to provide necessary service efficiently and effectively; and beverage service that includes specialized service of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

The top box on level six of the Competency Model is split in two and the box on the left highlights skills needed to excel in management, which includes managing daily operations, leadership, staffing, finance and marketing. O*Net OnLine, a job analysis tool, is linked to from the top right box. The site provides occupation-specific requirements for every position in the industry taking an in-depth look into each position’s tasks, the tools and technology needed, required knowledge, skills, abilities and education.

How will the model benefit the industry?

NRA Educational Foundation Spokesperson Stave Kramer said the model is a game-changer. The food and beverage industry model joins 23 other models that exist for other industries, such as aerospace, construction, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. It will not only help find the right people, but it also will help job trainers and instructors plan educational and skill training programs, and in developing curriculums at the secondary and post-secondary school levels.

“It will serve as a foundation for skills-building,” Kramer said. “It will help instructors and trainers teach students and employees the skills they need to get placed and advance. It also will help hiring managers to judge skills and ability. They will be able to use it as a score card showing that candidates interviewing for jobs actually have the experience that make them good fits for the position.”  

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