WSU Tri-Cities is expanding course offerings to meet business needs

Washington State University Tri-Cities introduces professional training focused on the needs of Tri-City businesses.

The advanced workforce training program is offered in partnership with the City of Richland, Port of Benton and Visit Tri-Cities and is part of the professional development offerings of the WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business.

Courses are taught by the WSU business school and are available to workers of all career levels, including executives who may not have a bachelor’s or business degree. The non-credit courses are typically paid for by employers and generally cost hundreds of dollars rather than thousands.

The initial offering includes a course for waiters in wine tasting rooms and a business acumen course designed to introduce students to the basics of managing an organization’s finances.

“We try to meet needs,” said Joan Giese, associate professor of marketing and director of lifelong learning at WSU Tri-Cities Carson College of Business. The aim is to provide professional development for anyone who needs it, regardless of whether they have a bachelor’s degree or another degree.

The growing list of courses has been developed in conjunction with industry leaders interested in upskilling and reskilling workers.

wine tasting program

The Wine Tasting Room program was the first to be launched, with the first course being offered in 2021 in consultation with wine industry leaders. It offers eight hours of online and on-demand training and concludes with a certificate. About 75 have signed up, with students from across the state.

Students will learn the basics of wine and Washington’s role as a wine country. Graduates are able to present wines, make recommendations and suggest food pairings, all with the aim of increasing sales in the tasting room.

The course costs $249. As with the other offers, the fees are usually paid by the employer.

Business-oriented courses

Business Acumen is a month-long series of online and classroom courses for managers and owners. The course covers degrees as well as identifying investment projects and managing working capital.

DJ Fairhurst, Associate Profession of Finance and Management Science, is the instructor. The fee is $1,295.

Fundamentals of Business is another certificate program designed for students entering the business world without an economics degree. It does not focus on entrepreneurs, but provides a foundation for how businesses work and how to create products that are valuable to customers.

The eight-hour course is available online and on-demand. The fee is $349.

Cultivating Service Excellence is the newest course and is expected to start in November. It will be an 8-hour on-demand course that is cross-industry. The focus is on creating caring communities and finding sweet spots in the market, Giese said.

Future offerings include a course on the mindset of supervisors and another on human resources management for frontline workers.

The Port of Benton has thrown its support behind the expanded workforce because it sees it as key to helping workers keep up with an ever-evolving economy, said Miles Thomas, the port’s director of commercial and government affairs.

“Effective career skills lead to job fulfillment, recruitment and promotion, which the port sees as a clear link for community engagement,” he said.

For Visit Tri-Cities, the region’s tourism development agency, staff training is a practical solution to addressing the difficulties the hospitality industry faces in finding and retaining qualified candidates.

“The courses offered through this program will help strengthen the industry and visitor experience,” said Kim Shugart, senior vice president at Visit Tri-Cities.

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To participate in program development, contact Giese via email at [email protected]


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