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Working on an Innovative National Solutions to Help the Retail Industry Address Local Workforce Challenges around Hiring, Training, and Retention

Working on an Innovative National Solutions to Help the Retail Industry Address Local Workforce Challenges around Hiring, Training, and Retention

The U.S. Department of Labor is pleased to announce a series of investments totaling more than $5 million to address the workforce needs of the retail industry. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Labor hosted a forum with retail industry leaders, educators, and the public workforce system to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce shortages.

ETA has listened to employers, industry associations and others associated with the retail industry regarding their efforts to identify challenges and implement effective workforce strategies. The challenges faced are far too complex for one institution or industry sector to solve alone. ETA is supporting comprehensive business, education, and workforce development partnerships that foster innovative approaches to address the workforce needs of business and effectively help workers in the retail industry find good jobs with good wages and promising career pathways.

Workforce solutions were developed based on the retail industry's priorities to address issues such as:

  • Recruitment and Retention: Retail employers struggle to attract and retain the best and brightest employees because of the misperception that jobs are low-wage and lack growth potential. In reality, today's retail industry is dynamic with diverse career ladders covering a wide range of fields including: information technology, marketing, communications, loss prevention, finance, and merchandise sourcing.
  • Competency Models: Though the retail industry has started work on initial training models and skills certifications, they are not yet used consistently across the industry to build skills competency requirements for positions at all levels and to encourage career growth. Retailers are struggling to attract qualified individuals, train them, and have them advance their careers.
  • Diversity: In an increasingly diverse society, multilingual employees are desirable. Retailers are customer service driven and need workers to speak the languages of their customer base. Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is a problem as workers may speak the language of customers, but lack basic English language and literacy skills to perform all job functions.

The grants are intended to provide genuine solutions, leadership, competency models and training curricula for partnerships that can be replicated in different parts of the country.