HR Director promotion boosts CDG learning & development scheme

Casual Dining Group (CDG), one of the UK’s largest independent restaurant companies, has further developed its industry leading learning and development programme by adding a range of new courses in partnership with UK universities, following the promotion of Claire Clarke to Group HR Director.

Previously the People Director – Concessions, Franchising & Central at CDG, Clarke (pictured) is now responsible for overseeing all strategic HR decisions across CDG. This senior appointment is a direct result of the implementation of the new learning and development programmes.

The additions to the programme demonstrate the company’s ongoing commitment to investing in its people and attracting quality talent into the hospitality industry and across all areas of its business, with a particular focus on marketing, strategy and finance.

The first of the new programmes, a BA (Hons) Business Management Degree run in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, enables operations managers and support centre leaders to complete a fully funded degree alongside their day job.

This 30-month course, which is open to all qualifying employees, has 12 spaces and combines an honour’s degree and apprenticeship levels 5 and 6, with both practical and classroom learning to give candidates the skill set they need to progress within the business.

Alongside the Business Management programme, CDG has also introduced a chef programme at University College Birmingham, targeting students completing level 2 and above and providing them with a gateway to work at CDG’s core brands.

Finally, CDG has also introduced an Elevate programme, targeted at high-performing general managers within the business that are looking to progress to multi-site leaders. The course, which has 12 spaces, upskills employees over a year long programme split into four modules, that provide insights into areas of the business they may not get exposure to. Each applicant will be assigned a personal tutor for the duration of the course.

All of these programmes have been designed to complement CDG’s Leadership Academy programme that was initially launched at Bella Italia before being rolled out across the business. The academy consists of three programmes; Stepping up, Emerging Leader and Future leader, aimed at all levels within the business looking to progress to the next level.

CEO Steve Richards said, “Our employees are the beating heart of our business and we’re dedicated to investing in them and providing them with the courses and tools they need to progress. Equally important is attracting quality talent into the hospitality industry and demonstrating the range and wealth of opportunities available in our vibrant sector. I firmly believe these courses will help us with these focuses.

“There is a real appetite in the business to offer more training and development programmes, and build on the excellent work of our HR teams. Working with universities allows us to share knowledge and best practice and put together industry leading programmes that attract and retain the best employees.”

Claire Clarke added, “We truly care about our people and their progression within the business, and wanted to positively promote a career in hospitality, demonstrating that it’s possible to progress from entry level to management at ease.

“With these programmes in place, we’re able to offer a clear career path and clarity for each individual. The onus is on the individual and every course participant will be the driving force behind their own progression, we simply provide the tools, structure and advice they need to take the next step in their career. I’m thrilled to be leading these industry-leading programmes and look forward to working closely with each individual during the course.”

Other existing training programmes CDG offer include bespoke apprenticeship schemes, in partnership with Remit Training, that support the career development for existing staff and new recruits in kitchen, front of house and management roles. It also offers a programme in partnership with Heathrow Employment & Skills Academy, providing recruitment, apprenticeships and training for employers who operate at Heathrow Airport – the courses provide a number of modules, from customer service training to learning a foreign language.