Walmart invests in retail careers

The Walmart Foundation announced new investments in 10 organizations involved in increasing the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors.

Ten Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) nationally will receive funding from The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. The Partnership selected 10 WDBs to collectively form and implement new models of career services specific to retail – models that will serve as best practices for the approximately 550 WDBs in the United States that already provide services, such as career coaching, soft skills training, specialized skills training and referrals to other resources.

The funding is part of a $10.9 million grant from the Walmart Foundation to The Partnership in March 2016.

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The two-year grant program aims to increase the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors by working with nonprofits, educational institutions and government agencies to make it easier for frontline workers to move faster into middle skills roles.

“As one of the largest providers of jobs for the American workforce, the retail industry presents many opportunities for workers to grow and thrive,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “Through our work with The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, we are helping ensure that retail workers have the skills, training and education needed to build long-lasting careers.”

The program addresses criticism that retail offers largely dead-end jobs. The WDBs will offer services to future workers that include job training, assistance acquiring a variety of skills and job placement help.

The WDBs will also serve as a point of contact for retail employers, help with recruiting, training and employee retention issues. It also aims to develop best practices and new models that can be more widely applied.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $100 million over five years to funding programs to help create career paths in retail and related fields. The retailer has turned its focus internally to employee training by creating training academies and providing store employees with better tools to help with store management and customer assistance.

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