Walmart recently announced they will be providing the Colorado Workforce Development Council with a grant of more than $4 million to help create pathways to career advancement in the retail and hospitality industries.
The initiative focuses on helping frontline incumbent workers to advance in their careers, according to a Walmart press release. It’s also an opportunity for the CWDC to partner with local workforce development boards to launch 10 new retail sector partnerships, implement various pilots to provide upskilling and enter statewide contracts that will allow more efficient access to learning platforms, said Lee Wheeler-Berliner,director of the CWDC.
“The retail industry is a really exciting space for us to work in because it is one of the few industries that someone can come in with almost zero skills and be provided with the base level knowledge of what they need to know and learn and develop and grow within that industry,” Wheeler-Berliner said.
The $4 million in funding is the latest investment as part of the Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Retail Opportunity Initiative. The initiative is a “five-year, $100 million philanthropic effort aimed at making it easier for frontline employees in retail and adjacent sectors to gain new skills and advance in their careers,” according to a Walmart press release.
The CWDC and the local workforce development boards will work together to figure out the specific skills to focus on for the training and development of employees.
“We’re bringing significant retail employers together and they will identify the struggles they have with their workforce,” Wheeler-Berliner said. “They will identify what occupations they need to fill, and therefore what skills they’re hoping to deliver to incumbent workers.”
According to UpSkill America, there are five million estimated unfulfilled jobs in the United States, while there are 24 million frontline workers who could potentially fill them if given training advancement opportunities. With the funding, the CWDC hopes to help people move from entry-level positions to management positions by teaching them skills that will not only help them advance in the retail industry, but in other areas and industries as well.
“Someone may start in a retail position and get to move up a few different levels to see what competencies they have and understand how those competencies they’ve developed in customer service can now translate into the IT industry and what that might look like if they want to make a career switch,” Wheeler-Berliner said.