Public Works Partners is helping The Door (www.door.org) to design a new training program that will prepare young adults to land—and retain—jobs in the retail sector. Relying on our expertise in developing and managing sector-focused training and employment programs, we’re helping The Door to create a program that will expose young adult trainees to retail opportunities early on, to see the sector as a platform for their long-term educational and employment goals, and as a step toward economic sufficiency.
Retail is typically thought of as a low-wage low-skill sector. Its shifting schedules and seasonal hiring patterns can also make retention a challenge—particularly if new employees aren’t prepared for daily life as a retail employee. But while there is no question that retail is hard work, the sector’s plentiful job openings make it attractive for participants looking to find entry-level employment. And employees who are properly prepared to engage the challenges of the sector can leverage their experience in a variety of occupations within the retail sector, including merchandise buying and planning, loss prevention, and supply chain management. Retail also develops transferrable skills that are valued broadly in other sectors, including customer service, successfully juggling several tasks simultaneously and managing conflict in the workplace.
Public Works is examining all aspects of The Door’s program model and helping them to think through the full participant experience. We are considering ways The Door can attract young adults who are likely to be excited about retail and can offer training, job placement, retention and advancement services that encourage their excitement. We’re identifying opportunities for the curriculum to reflect the skills retail employers consider important and to provide opportunities for students to be exposed to real-world retail experiences before they land their first job. Along the way, we’re making organizational recommendations—from how to staff the program to potential connections between this project and other programs offered by The Door.
Each of our workforce development engagements begins with a simple premise: to be successful, our clients must be training their participants in the skills needed by employers. The Door understands this intuitively. So we’re particularly excited to help them build an employer advisory board to ensure the retail sector program teaches the skills employers need the most. Last month, we facilitated our first board meeting and had a great conversation with eight retail employers about career paths in the retail sector. As a result, we’ve developed career maps that will inform young adults about the career options available in New York City stores. We’re looking forward to learning more during our next meeting in July!