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Kroger, Walmart, Target Among Retailers Backing NRF Job Initiative

The Kroger Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Target Corp. and BJ's Wholesale Club are among the retail organizations backing the National Retail Federation (NRF) Foundation’s launch of RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), a new training and credentialing initiative aimed at helping people — regardless of education, background, economic means or age — acquire the skills they need to secure jobs in retail and advance into promising careers.

From in-store to digital and mobile commerce, RISE Up is designed to build competencies and pathways for the workforce of the future. To date, 21 companies have come together to pledge their support for building the next generation of the retail workforce. Aside from Kroger, Walmart, Target and BJ's, other retailers participating in the initiative include Ashley Stewart, Brooks Brothers, The Container Store, Disney Store, The Home Depot, HSNi, L.L.Bean, Lowe's Cos. Inc., Macy’s, Neiman Marcus Group, Pilot Flying J, Target, Tractor Supply Co., Under Armour, Vera Bradley, Walmart, The Wendy’s Co., White Castle and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

Initial funding for the development of RISE Up was made possible by a capacity-building grant from the Walmart Foundation. 

“Good jobs change lives, and retail doesn’t just provide first jobs, but opportunities for lifelong careers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “RISE Up helps the people who need it the most, and helps retailers address recurring talent challenges – including reducing the time needed to hire and train new associates and decreasing turnover.”

Greg Foran, president and CEO of Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S., said: “Retail is such a dynamic industry –  it offers great jobs, flexibility and the ability to learn new skills and grow a career. Walmart is proud to work with the NRF Foundation and other retailers to explore new ways to attract, train and retain talent. This is a critical time for the industry, and it’s important that we all focus on giving our people the tools to succeed and the ability to move up.”

RISE Up begins with Retail Industry Fundamentals, a 15-module formal training program for entry-level retail associates in distribution centers, call centers or stores. It will give people a wide array of knowledge in areas like retail tools and technologies, customer service, retail math, inventory, and interview skills. The training can be delivered in the classroom or online to people of all backgrounds, ages and education levels. Upon successful completion of an exam, the learners will not only walk away with a credential for their resumes, but also the skills and confidence to take the first step toward a successful career. RISE Up is available through nonprofit and public education partners, and can also be used directly by retail companies to train and advance existing employees.

Tim Massa, group VP of human resources and labor relations at Cincinnati-based Kroger, said: “Digitization isn’t just changing the retail industry, it is changing society. And at a time when we have six different generations in the workplace, equipping all associates with the next-generation skills they need to continue growing both personally and professionally has never been more important. Kroger is proud to support the NRF Foundation’s RISE Up initiative.”

Noting, "Our team members are our greatest asset and are at the heart of ensuring we provide guests a seamless, reliable and enjoyable experience,” Target Chairman/CEO Brian Cornell said that the Minneapolis-based retailer “has a long history of providing robust training and development to our team, and we’ve seen them grow and flourish in their careers. For example, 60 percent of our team leads began as hourly team members in our stores. We’re proud to partner with the NRF Foundation and top retailers to bring RISE Up to life, offering people throughout the industry tremendously valuable learning and growth opportunities as they chart their retail career path.”

Christopher J. Baldwin, president and CEO of Natick, Mass.-based BJ’s, added that the company “is proud to be a part of RISE Up. Retail offers unlimited career opportunities, from a first step on the economic ladder to leadership positions in some of the world’s largest companies. RISE Up will help make sure we have the talented, skilled employees to help our industry thrive. RISE Up will also help the retail industry tell our great story about job creation and economic opportunity.”

RISE Up is part of RISE (Retail Industry Skills & Education), a broader retail education and credentialing program led by Washington, D.C.-based NRF.  

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