Exciting news out of Cleveland this week—and for a change, it has nothing to do with a certain basketball team. Pizza Hut is partnering with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), a nonprofit that offers at risk youth employment assistance, to offer a summer jobs program. Over six weeks, this important pilot program, designed by our very own Pizza Hut Restaurant Training Managers, will offer leadership training to six Y.O.U. program participants.
The connection to Y.O.U. comes through Pizza Hut Area Coach Jim Hickman, who’s been with the brand for 26 years. In a previous lifetime, Jim became familiar with Y.O.U. while visiting a job fair sponsored by the program. Among their career development programs, Y.O.U. also sponsors a career event in the style of a tournament, where roughly 400 kids compete in corporate challenge events—public speaking, mock interviews, resume and cover letter building, etc. Jim says he was wowed by the caliber of talent at the event, as well as the staff counseling them through the Y.O.U. program. Over the years, Jim continues to be impressed: “It’s immediately clear when you meet them that the kids in the Y.O.U. program are on a different level than some teenagers we get applying at random. They ask very smart, high level questions. I have full belief in the program, and the team members are very excited to meet the kids.”
Youth Opportunities Unlimited is one of the leading youth workforce development organizations offering workforce prep, job placement, and other development programs to kids ages 14-19 from families at or below the poverty line. To learn about their work and the organization’s history, check out this video celebrating their 30th anniversary. They have served over 150,000 youth to date— and their programs are proven to lead to academic and career success, with partnerships with more than 300 employers in Cuyahoga County.
And this year, Pizza Hut hopes to become one among those employers. Pizza Hut has supported Y.O.U. in the past by participating in job fairs, but for the first time we’re going to pilot a training course for six Y.O.U. participants, with the potential to hire the participants upon graduation. These teens will go through a full orientation and development program designed by our team members, and will be placed with high-performing Restaurant General Managers (RGMs) to learn about the culture at Pizza Hut. A portion of the training will focus on leadership—the skills to prioritize, delegate, communicate, and otherwise manage the operations and relationships of a busy restaurant.
It’s also an exciting opportunity for our master trainers, the Restaurant Training Managers, Josh and Kim. As specialists in training restaurant teams, we tasked them with running the project from soup to nuts (dough to cheese?). With the clear mandate to make this an in-depth, worthwhile experience for the Y.O.U. participants, Josh and Kim designed the six-week calendar along with the training sessions outside of the kitchen. They also had to think through all the different issues that may with having a new group of team members in the kitchen during busy times.
We’re so excited to welcome the six new participants into the Pizza Hut family. As Katie Gibson, a People Capabilities Leader at Pizza Hut HQ, put it, “We want the Y.O.U. participants to have the best experience and to understand what Pizza Hut can truly offer. For us, we’re excited to be developing leaders—and hope that one day they come back to us as managers and grow their careers with our company.”