At the National Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C., this week, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced an initial investment of $16 million to seven national nonprofit organizations as part of a new Opportunity initiative, a $100-million commitment to help increase the economic mobility of entry-level workers in retail and adjacent sectors. This significant investment aims to address some fundamental challenges to advancement, including the skills gap among U.S. workers. The $100-million commitment was first announced last week by Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, in conjunction with the roll-out of new opportunities and enhanced benefits for Walmart associates.
“We are delighted that Walmart is among the growing group of employers investing in education and employment opportunities for workers across the country,” said Russell Krumnow, managing director of Opportunity Nation. “The National Opportunity Summit is an event where leaders from all sectors can come together around shared ideas to restore opportunity in America, and commit to action that will transform our businesses, communities and our country.”
The skills gap among workers is a pressing issue facing the United States today. According to the Bridge the Gap report published by Harvard Business School, 51 percent of retailers find it difficult to fill middle- skills roles.
“We have been working in the dark for too long as we try to address the skills gap among U.S. workers. Now is the time for corporations, educators and policymakers to come together to identify critical middle-skills jobs, and pinpoint the specific qualifications needed to keep America competitive,” said Matthew Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. “Through its commitment, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are already leading the way and working with strategic partners to further develop skills training and job placement programs, and create clear career pathways to help workers find a lifetime of success.”
With an initial investment of $16 million in grants, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will help more than 12,000 retail and related sector workers gain the knowledge and training they need to advance in their careers through programs offered by the following nonprofit organizations: Achieving the Dream, The ACT Foundation, Dress for Success, Goodwill Industries, Jobs for the Future, McKinsey Social Initiative and the National Able Network. The programs will provide skills training, job placement support and develop interactive maps to showcase career paths within retail and adjacent sectors.
“We are excited to partner with other foundations, employers, training providers, government bodies and nonprofit organizations to improve career pathways for people in retail and adjacent sectors,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs. “We believe progress requires collective action in the industry to align on the skills required for advancement and to develop more innovative, effective, and universally-used training and assessments that recognize on-the-job learning. Ultimately, we aim to increase economic mobility of the U.S. retail workforce as a whole.”
The grants from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will support the following programs:
Achieving the Dream ($1 million): Build the capacity of four community colleges to place students in training and secure middle-skills jobs in the retail sector, creating a framework that can be replicated at other colleges (914 students served by the grant).
The ACT Foundation ($2.265 million): Develop a retail sector-wide competency model and interactive career maps to showcase the career paths of existing jobs in retail, logistics and customer service.
Dress for Success ($2.58 million): Provide 5,400 disadvantaged women from more than 30 states with pre-employment training that will help them obtain jobs and advance in their careers.
Goodwill Industries ($3 million): Build the capacity of eight Goodwill affiliates to provide training and career pathways to advance people from entry level to middle-skills jobs in retail, logistics and customer service (1,500 individuals served by grant).
Jobs for the Future ($3 million): Grow the capacity of 10 organizations to provide training needed for entry level workers to access jobs in the transportation, distribution and logistics sectors (3,000 individuals served by grant).
McKinsey Social Initiative ($3.2 million): Develop an innovative retail training and job placement model, and pilot with 650 low-income youths.
National Able Network ($1 million): Build the capacity of 18 centers to train and provide job placement assistance for 1,000 individuals working in retail, logistics and manufacturing.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s $100 million commitment over five years will create the career maps, training approaches and alignment among employers and training providers that will help many of the 15 million people working in retail today, including seven million women. In developing these tools and practices, the Walmart Foundation will support programs that directly help 50,000 people, including 30,000 workers move from entry level to middle-skills jobs. The commitment is part of the Walmart Foundation’s focus on creating economic opportunities for individuals globally. The Foundation is also committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts in the areas of sustainability and community.
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