Denny’s Corp., the full-service diner brand, is launching a four-part career development program for employees and aspiring restaurant industry professionals, the company announced.
The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company on Wednesday debuted its new GAIN development program, said Fasika Melaku-Peterson, Denny’s Corp. vice president of human resources and chief learning officer, to focus on four core areas, including:
- General Education Development, or GED, accreditation
- College credits and certifications
- Life skills
- Career pathways for high school students
Melaku-Peterson said Denny’s has partnered with GEDWorks and Denny’s team members will have access classes at colleges and universities to achieve credits and certificates.
“Everybody's path is not around college,” she said. “So how do we change that mentality? And how can the restaurant industry help support this in an intentional way? That's how GAIN was born.”
Melaku-Peterson added that program will be free for Denny’s employees.
In addition, Denny’s team members will have access to classes aimed at teaching life skills, including personal finance, technology, conflict management, and communications. Some of those classes may be eligible to transfer eventually into college credits, Melaku-Peterson added, saying that talks are underway with universities to partner on crediting classes.
“Denny’s is helping to create opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach for our team members,” said Kelli Valade, Denny’s CEO, said in a second-quarter earnings call Tuesday. “GAIN is the embodiment of Denny’s purpose, and I can’t wait to see how this program helps transform lives.
“We're really pleased with the progress we've made with staffing and reduced turnover rates, and we believe our commitment to the GAIN program will continue that positive momentum,” Valade said.
Denny’s also will offer career pathways for high school students so that they might gain jobs within the hospitality industry and develop a long-term career path. Denny’s has partnered with industry consultant Kim Cliett Long to advise on those initiatives.
Melaku-Peterson said the GED component of the program will including coaching.
She added that franchise owners’ support has been critical to implementing the program in a system that has about 217 individual owners in the Denny’s Franchise Association.
Melaku-Peterson said the program will be initially for Denny’s employees, but Keke’s may be added later.
As of June 28, Denny’s Corp. had 1,646 restaurants, 1,572 of which were franchised and licensed restaurants and 74 of which were company operated under the Denny’s and Keke’s brands. As of June 28, the Keke's brand consisted of 55 restaurants, 47 franchised and eight company operated.
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