Advancing retail workforce development remains top priority

Apr 25, 2024
Written by WR Communications

Successful retail career advancement stories are not uncommon. Ron Vachris and Nichole Hart exemplify those compelling success stories, showcasing the potential for upward mobility within the retail industry. Vachris, who started as a forklift driver, eventually became the CEO of Costco, while Hart rose from a part-time employee to a Walmart store manager, demonstrating the power of retail careers through internal promotion.

These are the stories that compelled Representative Mari Leavitt and Senator Matt Boehnke’s bipartisan backing of SB 6296. Last week, Leavitt visited with supporters of this legislation – Ryan Reygers, a long-time instructor at Clover Park Technical College, and Rose Gundersen, WR’s VP of Operations and Retail Services, to learn the transformative impact of the Retail Management Certificate offered in her Legislative District.

The conversation focused on exploring the program’s success metrics, revealing its effectiveness in enhancing future wages, education, and career prospects for participants. With the primary interest focused on supporting students and entry-level workers to pursue stackable micro-credentials, the discussion also focused on expanding educational offerings, such as RISE Up’s micro-credentials, which empower entry-level workers with stackable credits for career advancement. Additionally, Gundersen explored strategies with Leavitt to improve access to training resources for small and medium-sized retailers, aiming to enhance skill development and career opportunities within the industry.

The visit to Clover Park College underscored the collaborative efforts between policymakers, educational institutions, and industry stakeholders to cultivate talent and drive workforce development in the retail sector. With data highlighting the substantial benefits of short-term certificates—including longer job tenure, increased promotions, and higher wages—opportunities are available and investments in retail education hold promise for both workers and employers in the long term.


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