Wal-Mart and the Walmart Foundation announced Thursday (Feb. 26) the initial investment of $16 million to seven national nonprofit organizations. This is the first part of the recently announced Opportunity initiative that will provide $100 million commitment to help increase the economic mobility of entry level workers in retail sector.
This 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 (Feb. 19) by Wal-Mart President and CEO Doug McMillon.
“We are delighted that Wal-Mart 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."
Wal-Mart made the $16 million presentation at the National Opportunity Summit which was held in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. This initial investment 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.
The skills gap among workers is a pressing issue facing the United States today. According to the Bridge Gap Report published by Harvard Business School, 51% of retailers find it difficult to fill middle-skills roles.
“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.”