Casual Dining Group Introduces Training Scheme For Syrian Refugees

Casual Dining Group (CDG), one of the UK’s largest independent restaurant companies, has completed an industry leading pilot programme that aims to support Syrian refugees in gaining the necessary skills and experience to transition into the world of work.

The programme, run in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), World Jewish Relief, and SPS Training Solutions, saw nine refugees spend three weeks during March training to work in the hospitality industry.

The first and second weeks focused on theory, giving the course members the necessary skills to prepare them for work, such as interview training. This theory was then put into practice over the third week, where they gained first-hand industry experience working at a Bella Italia and Café Rouge site in Coventry.

Following the successful programme, CDG has offered employment to three of the course participants; while a further three members have been given provisional offers for when vacancies arise. Building on the success of the pilot programme, the respective parties are now in talks about replicating the programme on a wider scale.

Claire Clarke, Group HR Director, Casual Dining Group, added: “The hospitality industry is a phenomenal place to work that’s inundated with opportunities for driven people, regardless of background. We were delighted to work closely with the DWP, SBS, and World Jewish Relief to pass on our operational expertise and support this worthwhile and progressive initiative.

“As a business, we have created a sophisticated and robust series of training and development programmes to support with the progression of our employees. This programme is a great example of how we can utilise this experience as we look to support people with the necessary skillset to enter the industry.”

The initiative, which is the first of its kind for the hospitality industry, forms part of the Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP) run by World Jewish Relief. The programme supports those who have come to Britain as part of the Home Office’s schemes for vulnerable resettled refugees.

It operates in Coventry and across Yorkshire, and all programmes are tailored to each refugee individually, helping them to develop the skills and identify the opportunities they need to secure sustainable employment, thereby enabling them to integrate fully into British society.

Janice Lopatkin, Programme Director UK for World Jewish Relief said: “This cohort of refugees can provide the hospitality industry with a highly skilled, extremely driven and talented group of new recruits. We’re proud that this programme is boosting British business by supplying such a high calibre of candidates whilst also supporting the refugees to become self-reliant, contributing and valued members of British society.”

Paul Scott from the DWP’s National Employer and Partnership Team, added: “I’m delighted that this initiative has been so successful”