Today, at the National Opportunity Summit in Washington, D.C., Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will announce 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: