1) contrary to American myth, a good union promises quality workers, and the best way to do that is to ensure their members are highly trained. Everything is union here, but if you want to be a union employee, you must be prepared to meet that standard, starting with a thorough education.
2) American culture has seriously devalued the waiter. As a former cook, I've worked with those who had real training in the old French style, vs. those who merely took a job out of high school because the tips paid better. I'd choose the former every time. A skilled waiter is not just a glorified gofer, but someone who knows the food business inside and out.
3) It largely is on the job training; much of the trade school approach in Finland is based at least partly on apprenticeship. You take both lecture/classroom courses, as well as time spent on the job actually practicing your skills. The difference is, there's someone overseeing the process with an interest in actually making you a better professional, rather than solely on the basis of whether or not they should shitcan you and hire someone else.