A training program to create pathways for restaurant workers looking to advance their careers through franchise ownership is the aim of a new pilot program—the Taco Bell Business School—launched Jan. 19. The first cohort of students start the six-week boot camp in February.
The initiative is through a partnership between Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell and the University of Louisville's Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence. The center opened in 2021 to recruit women and people of color and educate them on how owning a franchise can be a pathway to entrepreneurship. Taco Bell is one of the Yum! Brands.
The school is the latest example of an organization working to be more diverse and to educate employees and potential job candidates on skills related to company needs.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak launched Woz U in 2017 in partnership with for-profit university Southern Careers Institute. It's an online education program to produce tech workers. In 2021, AT&T University launched its HBCU Future Leaders Program, a multiyear mentoring and workforce readiness initiative for students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Chubb, property and casualty underwriters based in Zurich, Switzerland, has its own associate program to help early-career professionals develop expertise as insurance professionals.
Classes for Taco Bell's program provide accredited education and training on business and entrepreneurial skills, according to the company. Topics will include brand standards, the franchise business model and franchise law, financing and funding, human resources, recruitment and retention, the franchisee and franchisor relationship, and how to identify key performance indicators and goals. All classes will be virtual at this time.
Taco Bell executives and franchisees helped to create the curriculum, including creating videos and other supplemental materials, and University of Louisville faculty will teach the classes. The curriculum builds on the university's existing franchise education tracks within its College of Business, according to the company. Boot camp courses have received certified franchise executive education credits by the International Franchise Association.
The aim, according to a Taco Bell spokesperson, is to create opportunities for underrepresented communities and for restaurant leadership to reflect the people who work and eat in their restaurants.
Students will receive scholarships to cover tuition for the program and will be recognized internally.
Anyone may apply, but Taco Bell is interested in people who have experience running a restaurant "and are eager for the next step in their career, are wanting to learn about the business of franchising or even have dreams of owning their own Taco Bell franchise one day," according to a company spokesperson.
Businesses and educational institutions "have a responsibility to work together to break down barriers and create opportunities for those who wouldn't otherwise have them," Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence Director Kathy Gosser noted in a news statement.
Mark King, Taco Bell CEO, noted in a news statement that "we know that fast-food jobs are often seen as steppingstones to other careers.
"We want to make foundational changes that positively impact our diverse team members' growth," he added. "This program will teach them skills they need to climb the ladder, whether that's moving up to the next level or even owning their own franchise one day."