- Gap Inc. has announced plans to expand its This Way Ahead skills and job-training program to 53 cities in 2018. The expansion will be achieved in part through a new partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which will extend the program to 22 U.S. cities and 60 cities by the end of 2020.
- This Way Ahead, launched in 2007, aims to prepare teens and young adults in underserved communities for employment opportunities, offering on-the-job training and other skill-building opportunities. In addition to training for retail jobs, the program includes some Gap Inc. distribution center positions.
- Gap said it expects that 10,000 teens and young adults will have participated in the program by 2020. The company’s brands have offered jobs to 74% of the program’s graduates. Citing This Way Ahead's "proven results," Gap said it plans to hire 5% of all new entry-level store staff from the program by 2025.
It seems that even the Gap Inc. family of companies isn’t immune to the challenges retailers face in a tight applicant market. The National Retail Federation recently launched a partnership with for-profit high school Penn Foster to upskill industry employees, stating the need to help workers secure jobs and enhance confidence in their abilities.
Such training initiatives can obviously help with recruiting efforts, but employers also are finding that they're a boon for retention. Training that engages workers on the job and allows them to focus on a long-term career within the organization, rather than externally, can be especially useful. To that end, career frameworks are becoming a must-have retention tool for many employers, who can use those efforts to create a management pipeline.
Retailers also are realizing that a steady entry-level pipeline is important for meeting customers' needs: recent research indicates that retailers that maintain low staffing levels are likely to lose revenue and customers if they can’t keep enough employees on the sales floor.