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National Apprenticeship Week 2022: How SCL Education Group and PizzaExpress are unlocking potential

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To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (#NAW2022) and the opportunities apprenticeships bring, SCL Education Group caught up with Dorota Strzelecka, Apprenticeship and Learning Manager at PizzaExpress.

In partnership with SCL Professional, PizzaExpress deliver a variety of management, mentoring and coaching apprenticeship programmes that unlock the potential of its teams across the UK. Development opportunities are available up to Level 7.

SCL Professional, part of SCL Education Group, unlock potential and transform organisations using the power of apprenticeships, specialising in leadership and management, business support and buying and merchandising.

Apprenticeships often spark conversation around career journeys, and that couldn’t be more true than it is this week, as Dorota shared her experience so far in working for PizzaExpress.

An impressive 16 years with the business, Dorota is proof of what’s possible when your career aspirations are supported and encouraged, as she now uses that passion to inspire others.

Dorota started in front of house as a waitress, progressing to assistant manager within 18 months and then to manager, which saw her run restaurants and lead teams.

With a long-held passion for training and development, she took the opportunity to become a Regional Training Manager, and later her current role as Apprenticeship and Learning Manager with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017.

Dorota said: “From the very start, understanding how restaurants work was the key to building great relationships with my teams and with our customers. Having a team behind me was absolutely crucial to becoming a good manager going forward.”

Dorota explained that apprenticeship delivery at PizzaExpress uses a holistic approach to development, ensuring that knowledge, skills and behaviours are embedded in each apprenticeship programme.

“The biggest thing that impacts how quickly people can progress within their career is the fact that the knowledge transfer happens immediately. You learn, you practice and then you understand how to do things from the behavioural point of view.”

As an employer, PizzaExpress demonstrate that apprenticeships are for everyone, whether it’s a school leaver looking for a career path or a current member of staff within a business who wants to upskill.

“Apprenticeship programmes really give people the opportunity to build a future by starting a new career or progressing within their current one.”

Build the Future is the theme for this week, as businesses and apprentices across the country shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Dorota shared that working with SCL Professional has brought a ‘freshness’ to their delivery of apprenticeships, including a focus on the importance of wellbeing, mental health and good nutrition in being a successful business leader. For example, including nutritionist support as part of the programme to ensure that staff look after themselves by eating regularly and taking breaks – important elements in a hectic restaurant environment.

Bringing ‘interesting and inspirational activities’ to their programmes is part of providing a well-rounded package for business managers as they build a future in hospitality at PizzaExpress. Dorota said:

“We would love people to join and stay with us because loyalty is one of our values. We recognise that our role as a big employer is to give someone opportunity, and this is what we can offer. There is a lot of support and a chance to do what you really love. Everyone has a chance to develop, have fun and join our accommodating and agile team.”

Martin Knight, Group Commercial Director at SCL Professional said:

“It is an absolute honour to support PizzaExpress with their apprenticeship strategy. Our mission at SCL Professional is to work exclusively with quality focused, innovative, future-facing businesses who are invested in raising the bar of apprenticeships. Working closely with PizzaExpress, we are developing incredible programmes that unlock potential and create high performing teams.”

You can discover more about apprenticeships with SCL Professional and follow SCL Education Group and Dorota Strzelecka on LinkedIn.

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