Supporting the Sector: What Challenges Did Lockdown bring?

A review of how CPL Learning and their partners faced the challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown and how we can support you in the new normal.  

We have been humbled and proud to be part of the hospitality sector during these challenging few months of lockdown. The road ahead isn’t fully clear, venues are operating at a lower capacity than normal or may not have reopened at all, operations have changed, the public may be feeling nervous about returning to normal.

Here at CPL Learning, we knew we needed to play our part in supporting the sector. Here, we’ll look at some of the challenges, the solutions and what we’ve learnt for the future and how learning and development will look as we enter the new normal.

Accessible learning for all

What we saw:

Early on, we realised that learning and development resources were going to be a real lifeline for hospitality teams. With uncertainty about the future, being able to access personal development resources has helped people feel they are building their skills in difficult times. Being able to reach out to teams with valuable learning resources has been a key part of keeping lines of communication open between operators and their teams through furlough. And with such difficult circumstances, looking after the mental health and well being of hospitality and retail team members across the UK would be a priority.

What we did:

In mid-March, just before lockdown, we decided to extend our support and make our Mental Health Support Champion and Personal Resilience courses available for free. Over 162,000 of these courses have been assigned since we launched the offer with 10,000 hours of training completed over the last four months.

Well being courses from CPL Learning

Operators who provided well being support will benefit from a more engaged and supportive workforce. Our research showed that for those frontline team members whose opinion has significantly improved during lockdown, 73% have been provided with wellbeing support and 67% stated that they felt their wellbeing has been prioritised by their employers.


We worked in conjunction with UKHospitality to bring personal development to even more hospitality team members with the launch of the online training platform UKH Pathway. Giving access to a range of well being and personal development resources the platform has been accessed by more than 6,000 registered users.

Operational challenges   

What we saw:

As the severity of the pending pandemic became clear we recognised the need for operators to access support and training to prepare and make contingencies to deal with COVID-19. Operational changes came into play quickly, suddenly operators were considering offering delivery or takeaway services when they never had before. Which the landscape changing so quickly, operators needed access to training to help teams adapt.

What we did:

On the 12th March, we launched our free Coronavirus – Taking Proactive Action course. Produced in collaboration with David Edwards of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the course covers what coronavirus is, how infection spreads and areas to consider and plan for as well as operational tips and the most up-to-date hygiene advice.

We were blown away by the phenomenal response. To date over 105,000 courses have been assigned, with over 5,000 hours of training completed.

Free courses during lockdown

Driven by the overwhelming demand, we quickly adapted the course to offer support to retail businesses and the US On-Premise with tailored versions of the course.

On Friday 20th March hospitality businesses across the UK shut their doors after being instructed to do so by the Government. Many looked to adapt their operations to offer takeaway and delivery services. Again, this meant operators had to act quickly and try to navigate, for many, a whole new way of working. In response, we developed another brand-new free course – Planning Delivery and Takeaway.

And again, the demand was high. To date, 43,000 courses have been assigned to help operators adapting their services completing over 1,000 hours of learning.

People Insights  

What we saw:

As lockdown began to be lifted, we needed to understand what the future of hospitality will look like. We wanted to provide operators with the insights into the thoughts, feelings, and concerns of their frontline teams. Understanding the people who work in the industry is integral to the success of the future of hospitality. The sector has long been undervalued despite being the third biggest employer in the UK, with misconceptions of low skilled workers and limited career opportunities. We want to showcase the amazing professionals working in the sector and the amazing career pathways available to those passionate about hospitality.

What we did:

In May, we launched, in conjunction with CGA, Hospitality Professionals. This is a brand-new insight initiative which aims to understand the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of Hospitality Professionals across the UK.

Our first survey had a great response, with over 1,000 hospitality professionals taking part. The first survey examined team members’ thoughts on the future of the sector, how they had been impacted by furlough and how lockdown had impacted their opinion of their employers.

We also learnt about the value of learning and development through lockdown and how hospitality professionals feel about their opportunities to develop personally and professionally.

Preparing for reopening

What we saw:  

We understood that the hospitality sector would need support in reopening their venues safely and effectively. There were new government guidelines to follow, hygiene and safety considerations and operators needed to help guide their teams through the reopening process.

The programme would need to help team members of all levels and help not just during the reopening process and implementing government guidance, but support teams as they learn how to deliver hospitality in a new environment.

We wanted to make things as easy as possible for operators, by providing everything they would need in one package. Helping their teams and customers feel secure with demonstrable skills and knowledge.

What we did:

In June, we developed and launched our Ready to Serve learning programme. To support the sector, we decided to make the Ready to Serve Manager course available for free, supporting managers in following safe working practices and a step by step approach to reopening their operation safely. Course topics include Risk Assessment, Team Safety and Protection, Social Distance and more. And it’s been a hit with hospitality managers, with over 28,000 courses being accessed so far.

Our mission

Our mission throughout the period has been to support the sector and our amazing clients and partners. Three weeks before the UK went into lockdown, we announced our rebrand, following the merger of both our online and training divisions. With the rebrand, we defined our values in what we deliver, collaborative, passionate, dynamic, expert, and bold. Our mission is to unlock potential through our pioneering approach to learning and development. We feel proud to have lived by our values during this challenging time.

And as hospitality returns, we are looking forward to continuing to deliver our mission, and continue to support the sector. We plan to do this through continuing to make learning accessible for all, leading with insight and championing hospitality to those outside the sector. Where there is a challenge, we will find the solution.  

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