The Walmart Foundation, a philanthropic branch of the retailer, announced Wednesday that 10 U.S. Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) will receive funding for their retail career services. The investment is part of a $10.9 million grant the Walmart Foundation awarded The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership), a non-profit organization, earlier this year. Walmart Foundation and The Partnership advance retail workers’ career growth by working with other community affiliates on employment training opportunities.
“The advancement of our nation’s workforce is imperative and investments made by the Walmart Foundation and The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership in our national network of WDBs will create a significant ripple effect that will help boards across the country make informed, smart decisions about how to invest in workforce strategies that align with the needs of their local retailers,” said National Association of Workforce Boards President Ron Painters.
According to the National Retail Federation, the retail sector supports a total of 42 million American jobs. As this industry continues to experience major growth, many people are altering their perspectives about store management positions.
A Harvard Business School paper, “Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills,” broke down the retail industry’s dead-end reputation and discussed how smaller jobs can eventually lead to supervisory roles or higher wage positions. With this in mind, it is crucial for WDBs to receive proper funds to help employees and employers involved in the retail industry.
With the grant, the 10 WDBs will provide employers and job seekers with many services, including retail job readiness training, job placement assistance, incumbent worker training, customized recruiting and employee retention assistance. Selected WDBs included: Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation in Maryland; Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, Inc.; Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Department; Denver Workforce Development Board; Cambridge, Massachusetts Metro North Regional Employment Board; Center of Workforce Innovations (Northwest Indiana Workforce Board); Philadelphia Works; San Diego Workforce Partnership; Bridgeport, Connecticut’s The WorkPlace; and Workforce Snohomish in Everett, Washington.
“The need to provide career pathways for workers to advance in the retail sector is a national challenge,” said Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO of The Partnership. “The Partnership is excited to work with Workforce Development Boards from across the country to demonstrate the great strides we are making to implement new models and strategies focused on growing the retail workforce.”