Owens Community College partnered with Hollywood Casino for job trainingWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Shortly after voters approved Penn National Gaming Inc.’s move into Ohio, Owens Community College offered to help the casino company with job training. College representatives have multiple corporate partnerships that typically involve visiting a business and training on site.
The Hollywood Casino Toledo partnership differed because the business didn’t have a training site readily available, considering the months of construction.
“We knew it would be an opportunity for members of the local community to be employed there,” said Michael Bankey, vice president of the college’s workforce and community services.
A wing of one of the buildings on campus was vacant, so the college constructed walls, laid down carpeting, installed ventilation and brought in tables to create a space for dealer training, he said.
Bankey and his colleagues then set out to find instructors to teach blackjack. As casinos are new in Ohio, Bankey had to look out of state and research curriculum. But the casino made a deal to send its own instructors.
Each job seeker enrolled in blackjack training paid the college $200, which the casino will reimburse if that employee stays with the company for at least six months, said Chrystal Herndon, vice president of human resources.
Herndon said dealer schools typically cost $400-$500.
Before enrolling, future blackjack dealers had to be approved by the casino team. The process began with a group interview among 20 to 25 people, which flowed like an informal conversation. If the hiring team liked an individual, it would set up a one-on-one interview.
Few applicants had any dealing experience, so the successful candidates were chosen based on personality, Herndon said.
“We can teach you the technical skills but we cannot teach you how to be nice,” she said.
From there, the college conducted registration and casino instructors kicked off classes. Blackjack dealing instructor Amy Marinov said the students had a 98 percent success rate.
“The drive was there; they really wanted to learn — it’s a new career move and it’s a good living,” Marinov said. “I’ve done this for years and these were probably some of the best students I’ve ever had.”
Irick Shikwana applied for the job for just that reason — a new career. He was working at Fifth Third Bank when the casino posted job openings.
“I’m an energetic person and I like talking, and in the bank we just sat down and cashed checks and did the same process over and over and I didn’t mind it but I just needed something more refreshing,” Shikwana said.
He learned blackjack within three days. He was promoted to a supervisor position. Most people in training catch on by the third week, Marinov said.
Blackjack dealers make about $16 to $22 an hour with tips, adding up to about $40,000 a year on average across Penn National Gaming’s 27 properties, Herndon said.