As independent and chain pizzerias continue to grapple with long-term staffing challenges, Marco’s Pizza has a plan to help employees advance their education on the company dime.

Marco’s has partnered with Bellevue University, located in Bellevue, Nebraska, to provide college-level educational courses for its franchise supervisors and shift leaders.

Sixteen Marco’s Pizza franchise supervisors from markets across the country were selected to participate in a pilot people and business leadership certificate program through Bellevue University’s College of Technology, Engineering and Management.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to add value to our people,” Rod Sanders, Marco’s senior vice president and chief people officer, said in a press release. “We’re a performance brand, and we know we succeed only when we value everyone and help our people to succeed. This program is another ingredient that we believe will contribute to our team members by preparing them for a lifetime of success, inside or outside of Marco’s Pizza.”

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“The class really taught me to see the bigger picture, that there are different ways to train and communicate with my team,” said Elizabeth Fields, a Marco’s Pizza general manager in Illinois. “I loved that the course was online, and I plan to take what I’ve learned and put it into action at my store.”

According to Dr. Matt Davis, Bellevue University’s executive vice president and dean of the college, students will master essential business management and leadership skills in two six-week courses. The program is built to be accessible to front-line workers like those at Marco’s Pizza.

“Great management and leadership skills can be learned,” Davis said, noting that the certificate program’s curriculum is based on a program used successfully by one of the nation’s leading retailers. “Now we’ve taken it to the next level with a mobile-first course design that incorporates relevance, rigor and respect for the learner’s time.”

For the Marco’s Pizza team members who successfully complete the program, the eight credit hours they earn can be applied toward an undergraduate, four-year college degree. The pizza brand said it’s already looking ahead to opening the program to a new class of supervisors.

“Marco’s will look to evaluate the program’s long-term impact using feedback from participants, and we hope to track retention over time,” Sanders said.

The ultimate goal of the program is to upskill Marco’s Pizza employees while also boosting the company’s overall employee satisfaction and engagement. “This educational opportunity not only helps our stores as team members are learning skills they can apply on the job, they’re also learning skills that they’ll take with them throughout their lives,” Sanders said. “It’s truly a win-win situation.”

Marco’s Pizza is the country’s fastest-growing pizza brand based on year-over-year unit growth, according to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 500 U.S. Restaurant Ranking LSR Pizza Segment for 2022.

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