Chili's reaches out to military personnel with training opportunity

Photograph: Shutterstock

Chili’s Grill & Bar is expanding the scope of its model apprenticeship program to include military personnel returning to civilian life.

The move provides the Brinker International chain with another well of management candidates. Service men and women accepted into the groundbreaking program will earn a paycheck from Chili’s as they’re provided with the education and training to advance into supervisory positions for the chain.

They will join the 250 Chili’s employees currently participating in the initiative, a pilot program forged by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) and related groups under a grant from the federal government. The money was used to create a career path for young people who are interested in a high-income career but not in the costly higher education typically required for good-paying jobs.

The NRAEF studied managers at Chili’s and other foodservice operations to determine what competencies are needed for success at the job. Those skills were codified into a model set of capabilities, and learning modules were developed to instill those abilities as a complement to practical on-the-job experience. Persons who complete the program are awarded with a diploma-like proof of competency that can help them land a management job at any restaurant chain.

In the wake of Veterans Day, Chili’s and the NRAEF jointly announced that the apprenticeship program would be expanded to accept military vets who are currently or about to start transitioning back into civilian life. “We truly want these honorable men and women to see the restaurant and foodservice industry as a top option for fulfilling and rewarding careers,” Rick Badgley, SVP and chief people officer for Brinker, said in a statement.

The joint announcement did not set a target of how many service men and women will be accepted into Chili’s program.

Chili’s is believed to have the highest participation in the Hospitality Sector Registered Apprenticeship program within the restaurant industry. Taco Mac, a casual chain far smaller than Chili’s, is believed to be the first participant. It announced early this year that it would create 50 apprenticeships.

The Hospitality Sector program is expected to serve as a model for other industries struggling to find sufficient employees, including the trucking business. President Trump has signed an executive order aimed specifically at encouraging the private sector to develop more apprenticeship program.




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