During a workforce development event at the White House yesterday, the National Retail Federation (NRF) signed a “Pledge to America’s Workers,” committing to create enhanced career opportunities for 250,000 individuals over the next five years through the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up program and student programs. The new White House initiative is aimed at increasing the skills of current and future workers by expanding apprenticeships, educational opportunities and job training programs. NRF was among more than 20 companies and associations that signed the pledge. As part of the White House initiative, President Trump also signed an executive order establishing the National Council for the American Worker along with an external advisory board.
Total Retail's Take: According to a study by NRF and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the retail industry is the largest private employer in the United States. Consider that retail directly and indirectly supports 42 million jobs, provides $1.6 trillion in labor income, and contributes $2.6 trillion annually to U.S. GDP. However, many of those jobs are often seen as entry-level positions, offering little in the way of a future career. The NRF is working to change that perception. Training and education to provide retail workers with the skills needed to better compete in today's evolving and competitive environment, particularly in-store, will be integral to the success of the NRF's initiative. Employers must do their part as well. Retailers must recognize the value of store associates, the face of their brand for many, and invest in their long-term success.
“For countless Americans, retail is the first step toward success in the workforce,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release. “But it’s more than a first step – it’s often an opportunity for a lifelong career. Unfortunately, too many individuals either aren’t aware of the promising career paths in retail or lack the skills they need to get their foot in the door. And too many employers face talent shortages. That’s why we’re committed to upskilling 250,000 workers over the next five years through our Foundation by expanding our programs for college students and building on our training and credentialing program for people with barriers to employment. We look forward to working with the administration to empower more Americans to achieve their full potential.”