Maritza De Armas/Staff Writer
Anyone can now learn about hospitality entrepreneurship and different alcoholic beverages thanks to a new online learning platform, BacardiTeach.
The hospitality industry, one of the largest in South Florida, was hit hard by the pandemic. Thousands of people within the industry have been laid off. In response, the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality and Bacardi USA created the platform to help.
Bacardi USA is the U.S. branch of Bacardi, the largest privately and family-owned spirits company in the world.
The online platform offers seven introductory courses, including an introduction to gin and liqueurs.
It was created after Bacardi USA donated $5 million to the hospitality school in February, allowing FIU to officially create the Bacardi Center of Excellence and expand CasaCuba, a partnership with FIU that promotes and preserves Cuban heritage.
“BacardiTeach is very dynamic and entertaining,” said Brian Connors, the interim director of the center. “It has heavy images and there’s a lot of great stories tied with factual information about a particular spirit and a particular Bacardi brand.”
To support the hospitality workers who lost their job due to the pandemic, FIU is offering free selected courses until Dec. 31. Once participants complete five courses and successfully pass an exam, they receive a certificate of completion.
While the program is currently being held remotely, there are plans to add more courses and an in-person component featuring workshops with experts in the industry.
“This is our support, our help, our relief that we are getting out there,” said Connors. “We’ll be adding more content when we’re able to get back on campus and develop it.”
For the upcoming fall semester, FIU also plans to launch the Bacardi Innovation Challenge, a virtual challenge that looks at the hospitality and beverage industry of the future through a series of challenges and outcomes.
The challenge will introduce one of the outcomes called Bar2040, which focuses on how the beverage industry will look in the year 2040.
The center, which hopes to create a unique educational experience, offers both scholarships and paid internship opportunities for college juniors and seniors who are pursuing hospitality and tourism careers.
“The current state of the industry, the country and the world has shifted what we do and we fast-tracked it a little more,” said Connors. “I think that the Bacardi Center of Excellence is now looking towards the future and how we’re able to help the industry and the FIU community as a whole.”
To find courses and more information about the program, visit the BacardiTeach website site.