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Denny’s launches employee career development program

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Denny’s is launching a career development program for employees and aspiring restaurant industry professionals, according to an Aug. 2 announcement.

Called the GAIN program, the initiative is part of a three-year commitment to provide education and career advancement opportunities for team members. GAIN includes four main areas: GED accreditation, college credit, life skills and career pathways for high school students.

“Denny’s is helping to create opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach for our team members,” Kelli Valade, Denny’s CEO, said in a statement.

Denny’s partnered with GEDWorks to create an all-in-one GED solution, which is free for Denny’s employees and designed to be flexible. Employees also have access to life skills classes, including personal finance, technology, conflict management and communications. Some of these classes may be eligible for transfer into college credit.

Denny’s will also offer career pathways for high schoolers so students can obtain a job, learn and grow in the hospitality industry, and develop a long-term career path. 

“We know creating these opportunities for our team members fosters success, not only for their immediate family but across generations and communities,” Fasika Melaku, Denny’s vice president of human resources and chief learning officer, said in the statement.

“GAIN will help propel our Denny’s team members and young people across the country on their journey to becoming future leaders,” she said.

As more employers make moves to offer career development options for workers this year, the restaurant industry seems to be leading the way in skills-based learning and hiring. In fact, since the industry often relies on on-the-job training and experiential learning, many companies are turning to restaurant professionals for advice on ways to better develop their talent pipeline, one expert said.

Chipotle, for instance, recently announced record employee retention due to training and internal promotions. The company’s new initiative has focused on reestablishing operational standards and emphasizing on-the-job, in-person training with experienced managers.

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