Coastal Pines Technical College and Sea Island Company announced Friday the launch of a pilot program for the Hospitality Academy.

The Hospitality Academy will be the first training program of its kind in this area to focus on local workforce development in hospitality.

Scott Steilen, president and CEO of Sea Island Co., said at a launch event on Friday that the program has long been needed in the Golden Isles.

“We continue to face challenges from a workforce development perspective here in the Golden Isles, in terms of filling businesses in the hospitality area,” he said. “Whether it’s in the restaurant business, in the hotel business, in the services business, it’s always a challenging business to be in.”

The Hospitality Academy will address that need by offering an overview of the hospitality business along with soft skill development.

The pilot program will start May 2 and run through June 6. Classes will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the nearly six week program.

“I know this program is going to benefit not only Sea Island Co. but all the businesses here along the coast, in Glynn County and beyond,” said Glen Deibert, president of Coastal Pines. “Our mission at Coastal Pines Technical College is workforce development, so this is a great partnership that we’re developing with the Sea Island Co.”

Sea Island intends to underwrite tuition scholarships for each of the 12 students selected for the pilot and has guaranteed a face-to-face interview with each of those students who successfully complete the program.

“These will be people who are getting ready to enter the hospitality business, and it is by no means, and I promise you by no means, a Sea Island exclusive,” Steilen said. “It is an area program that we are piloting to start.”

He said the entire local hospitality industry will benefit from the creation of this program.

Theresa Dileo, director of human resources at Sea Island, said that while hospitality companies are seeking employees, there are 24 percent of people ages 16 to 24 in this community who are not working and are not in school.

“This is an excellent opportunity to introduce motivated local residents to a variety of career pathways that we have in hospitality and provide skill development that is so necessary for employment,” Dileo said.

She said ideal candidates for the program should show a genuine interest in people, demonstrate gracious manners and have a professional demeanor.

“If a candidate possesses that, they’re a great candidate for the hospitality program,” Dileo said.

Qualified candidates must be at least 18 years old. The application process is posted online at coastalpines.edu/hospitality, and applications are due April 2.